We'd been watching the forecast very closely all week, hoping that it would still be safe to go into the cave. Sunday morning dawned, and a bit of wet on the rain radar, but nothing that would inhibit the safety of entering the cave, so off our keen bunch of adventurers set in Big Yellow.
With little traffic, we have an easy drive down to Mercer and then off the motorway to head to Waikaretu's, Nikau Caves. With the rain starting to gentlly fall, the soft haze and mist rolling across the steep, striking hillside country is very atmospheric and quite reminiscent of the club's damp trip to Awhitu last year, bar the high winds. One valley in particular as you're getting closer to the Nikau Caves is visually stunning! Big pancake limestone rock faces protruding from the steep hillsides and ravines just begging to be explored by keen trampers!
As we arrive, the rain is still gentle, and Philip our host and guide assures the group it's still safe to go into the caves. So the team sign their indemnity forms, although we're not sure some can read,... hehe.... and gear up with helmets and torches ready to go! Setting off along the path into the cave.
Once in the cave, it's quite an experience and nothing like other major caving experiences nearby as our Philip leads us into the cave. For the first 20 metres you crawl mostly on hands and knees through the very shallow stream that runs through the cave, before the cave opens out to plenty of height. This is where the magic begins, there are stalagmite's and stalagtite's and glow worms, so close that you can touch, but due to the acid our skins omit, you're not allowed as the acid damages these ancient formations that have been forming for hundreds or more years.
Our previous club trip into the caves we saw a few Cave Weta's, but not today.
When you pop out the other end of the cave, it's an other-worldly lush, tropical rain forest of ferns and native trees and meandering steps back up to the track out.
Back at the very relaxing, rustic Nikau Caves Cafe for lunch, those of us with the usual tramping lunch, salivate over the delicious meals that some of the group ordered whilst a golden Grasshopper watches us.
All fueled up, we head along the road to the Waterfall entrance and the bridge over the stream. The track to the waterfall is more of the lush, rain forest variety with ferns and native trees so we feel right in our element and what we yearn for so much with so many Auckland tracks closed. And a fun end to the tramping day before heading back to the bus to head home.
We were pleasantly surprised even though it's the last day of the school holidays, we had a breeze of trip back, with a stop at the less ubiquitous, world famous in NZ, Pokeno ice cream! Excellent!
Mini me.... sometimes when our bus doesn't look big! Certainly not next to this big B-train (truck & trailer) at Pokeno on the way back from the tramp this afternoon.