My Favourite Walk: Good times, grunts and a gander

Walking New Zealand - - Contents - By Alana Srubar-Ver­non

Set­ting off for our day tramp on the Fe­nian Caves Loop, we were not pre­pared for just how much of a good time we were about to have on our ad­ven­ture.

Think­ing it was go­ing to be an easy day tramp we headed out op­ti­mistic, mostly ig­nor­ing the com­ments we came across in the in­ten­tions book about ac­tual length and dif­fi­culty, fig­ur­ing that they wouldn’t rel­e­vant any­more as they were quite old.

The track starts off very gen­tly with a slow and steady climb up fol­low­ing an old bri­dle track. Orig­i­nally used in the early 1900’s by fully loaded pack horses; they would take sup­plies into the gold prospec­tors at The Fe­nian.

I found my mind wan­der­ing, try­ing to imag­ine what it must have been like for the set­tlers here and wait­ing for the next de­liv­ery of sup­plies by this route.

The sound of the gush­ing Oparara River slowly be­came more dis­tant as we neared the flat­tened semi-sum­mit be­fore the track splits to the proper Loop track.

It was in­cred­i­ble ac­cord­ing to lo­cals, to see the dam­age the storm had done, by tor­na­does, with beech trees ev­ery­where fallen over.

We had lunch here us­ing cut log sec­tions from the fallen trees that we con­ve­niently placed in a cir­cle, pro­vid­ing com­fort­able seat­ing. There was an eerie si­lence (likely due to the lack of trees) as there was vir­tu­ally no bird song other than the flit­ting fan­tail that had fol­lowed us up, chirp­ing away.

Af­ter lunch­ing was com­pleted, we headed off on the “new” Fe­nian Caves Loop Track, as parts of the old track were de­stroyed dur­ing the storm. The new patches were not very friendly on the knees and com­bined with some pre­vi­ous heavy rain proved very slip­pery.

Abound in the area are weka and af­ter our fan­tail left us, a weka took its place and de­cided to keep us com­pany for a while.

The Loop in­cludes three caves, two of them are fan­tas­tic for view­ing and have some im­pres­sive tites and mites to en­joy gan­der­ing at. The high­light of the track would be Tunnel Cave which you ac­tu­ally have to pass through to com­plete the Loop.

Miner’s Cave presents like a large mouth and traips­ing in­side is eas­ily done with­out hav­ing to duck. It sud­denly nar­rows re­mind­ing you to keep on truckin on the Loop.

Af­ter a bit more grunt­ing through the bush, you ar­rive at Tunnel Cave. This cave is not for the faint hearted and head­lamps are a must. Af­ter fol­low­ing the stream through for a bit, there is a sharp turn right. Here, there is a nar-

rowing and af­ter­wards all hands are on deck as you ma­noeu­vre around to get safely down. The jour­ney through Tunnel Cave is far too short and sweet with the to­tal dis­tance be­ing around 80m.

Shortly be­fore re­join­ing the bri­dle track you hap­pen across Cav­ern Creek Cave. With lower wa­ters the cave is ap­par­ently pass­able but we ob­vi­ously came too soon af­ter some rains.

Vis­i­ble in the gloomy wa­ters were some eels, adding a level of creepi­ness to the ap­pear­ance of this cave. Af­ter re­join­ing the bri­dle track, the mov­ing be­comes much eas­ier. The grunts needed to get through the bush and the short steep slides as a re­sult of the track Above: and be­low: Ex­plor­ing Min­ers Cave. Op­po­site page above: Me­an­der­ing through the bro­ken track. dam­age were left be­hind. Easy walk­ing back out and be­fore we knew it we were at the carpark.

Look­ing back up the track and it’s sad the the good times are over. It was a bit of tough work but to­tally worth it. We added our own new com­ments to the in­ten­tions book, agree­ing with those ones pre­vi­ously, that in­deed the DOC mea­sure­ments are just a tad out. Its at least four hours (not three) and 9.5 km (not 5 km).

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.