(Main image – Fay in Cleft of the Orcs, New Zealand. Photo by Peter Baxter)
In my opinion it’s the golden age of cave exploration in New Zealand. Their government helicopters cavers and gear to the summits of Mount Arthur where in 2014, cavers linked Nettlebed to Stormy Pot and the Pearse River Resurgence – a 1.2km deep system and to Mount Owen for exploration of Bulmer Cavern.
The Green Link to Middle Earth system below Takaka Hillis getting closer to the Riwaka resurgence and has the potential to become the second longest system in NZ at ~34km and ~400m depth. It contains the awesome 120m Lighthouse pitch. The impressive Harwood’s Hole has a 176m abseil into Starlight Cave. A 200m rope can be hired from Nelson Speleological Group.
In August 2017, as part of Speleo 2017,based in Sydney, I had joined two excursions in South Island, NZ, the caves round Nelson and the West Coast Karst.
This October 2022 I flew Air NZ into Hamilton, North Island to attend the NZSS AGM in Waitomo of glowworm fame. I had a solo trip down Pirpiri cave, then Cave of the Orcs and Waipuna – stunning pristine, white formations.
I then flew Air NZ into Christchurch to visit my family and join 4 members of Canterbury Caving Club for Cave Stream/Broken River a 594m through trip with a superb phreatic entrance which had been on my hit list since 2017.
At Waitomo I met Peter Hobson son of John Hobson, still alive, after whom Hobson’s choice, duck or drop down knotted rope into a pool, in the Dowbergill Traverse is named.
My thanks to Peter Baxter and Alice Shanks for allowing me to use their photos.