Like the teeth of a snarling beast, thousands of stalactites guard the entrance to Rawhiti Cave. It’s accessed via a steep and muddy track through the forest a short drive from Tākaka — a great place to seek out on your next trip to Golden Bay.
Getting to Rawhiti Cave
The track starts a 15-minute drive from Tākaka. You’ll pass through some farmland (don’t forget to close the gate) and soon reach the car park.
From there it should take around 60-90 minutes for the return journey. The track is steep and since I walked it after a lot of recent rain it was a muddy mess. Still, not too difficult though as long as you take your time (and wear good hiking boots). You’ll get an occasional view of the valley and also Dry River, which you’ll cross early on (the name is accurate so don’t worry about getting wet).
The mass of stalactites peering through the trees provide a striking first view of Rawhiti Cave. Walk a little closer and the whole cave entrance comes into view. What a sight! I’ve been to a few caves around the world but I’ve never seen such a cool entrance before.
You can walk a little way into the cave down a slippery wooden boardwalk. From there you’ll get a good look at the inside of the cave, with thousands more stalactites looming over the abyss. I read that you used to be able to walk further into the cave, but how it is now is impressive enough. It doesn’t take long to visit the cave, and then you’ll have a slippery walk back down the hill to the car park.
Places to See Nearby
Takaka is close to heaps of unique nature spots, including Te Waikoropupū Springs, Tākaka Hill (more caves, walks, viewpoints) and Labyrinth Rocks / The Grove. You can also drive to Abel Tasman National Park via Tākaka — we reckon Totaranui (and the nearby beaches) is one of the best places to visit along the Coastal Track and it’s great to be able to drive there for a day trip or for overnight camping.
Are you planning a trip to Golden Bay? Check out our Nelson Itinerary — it has heaps of information about travelling the top of the South Island.
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