My Favourite Walk: Good times, grunts and a gander
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).