Sunday, 22 April 2012

Oparara Limestone Arches and Caves.

Babbling brook through the forest.Babbling brook through the forest.Kahurangi National Park.Kahurangi National Park.

It was to be another dirt road adventure today to visit the Oparara Limestone Arch, Crazy Paving and Box Canyon caves. Fourteen kilometres of what was originally a logging  track through the Kahurangi National Park where logging ceased in 1976. Replanting native trees was started but all too late. Twenty five years later and the young Rimu and Rata trees are readily visible.

Regrowth Rimu in the Kahurangi National Park.Regrowth Rimu in the Kahurangi National Park.

At the first car park we had a twenty five minute walk to the Limestone Arch. The arch which has been created by the flow of water is huge, 219m Long, 43m High, and 79m Wide. You can see through the arch which is more like a tunnel with a river running through it.

River flowing through the Limestone Arch cave.River flowing through the Limestone Arch Cave.IMG_7172Oparara Limestone Arch

Further up the road we investigated the Crazy Paving and Box Canyon Caves. The Crazy Paving Cave, when found, had fossils and all sorts of strange living organism’s in the dried out mud on the floor. The head room in this cave was pretty low in places unlike the Box Canyon next door where it was hard to see the roof let alone touch it. Beautiful shapes in the Limestone rock had been carved by the rise and fall of water levels in the cave. I’m not sure if a river still flows through the cave but I certainly wouldn’t want to hang around in there if it started to rain as West Coast rivers can rise very rapidly.

Headroom in the Crazy Paving cave was a bit low.Headroom in the Crazy Paving Cave was a bit low.Floor of the Crazy Paving cave.Floor of the Crazy Paving Cave made up of dried mud.Oparara Honeycombe caves eroded away by water.Oparara Box Canyon caves eroded away by water.Oparara Honeycombe caves.Imagine all sorts of designs in the Oparara Box Canyon Cave.

After our caving experience we headed back to the main road where the final destination is Kohaihai. This is definitely the end of the road on the West Coast The last 4km’s is again a dirt road finishing up at the Department of Conservation reserve on the estuary of the Kohaihai river. Here there are miles of golden sands but they shelve away very steeply so are not suited to swimming. It is also the beginning or end of the Heaphy Track through the Kahurangi National Park to near Collingwood, a good 4 - 6 day hike.

Swing bridge across the Kohaihai river on the Heaphy Track.Swing bridge across the Kohaihai River on the Heaphy Track.Reflections on the Kohaihai river.Reflections on the Kohaihai River.This Weka had a wonky leg.This Weka had a wonky leg.

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