Waipu Caves

Useful Information

Location: 16 km nw of Waipu.
From Auckland north on SH1 towards Whangarei, south of Oakleigh turn onto Springfield Road for 22 km. Turn left onto Waipu Caves Road for 8 km. Waipu Caves Reserve left signposted.
(-35.9342808, 174.3491243)
Open: no restrictions.
Fee: free.
Classification: SpeleologyKarst cave BiologyGlowworm
Light: bring torch
Dimension: Main Cave: L=175 m.
Guided tours: self guided
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Address: Department of Conservation, Whangarei Office, 2 South End Ave, Raumanga, Whangarei 0110, Tel: +64-9-470-3300. E-mail:
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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At Waipu Caves there are actually several small caves, so the plural is true. All caves together have a total length of about 300 m, the biggest cave has about 175 m. The highlight is the third chamber of the main cave, which contains glowworms. Actually, glowworms are pretty common in New Zealand, they are found in almost every cave. But it is difficult to see them and easy to disturb them, so they do not glow any more. So be careful and as silent as possible when you enter the cave.

The caves are not developed but open to the public and much frequented. As there is mud and narrow crawls, caving gear is essential, at least old clothes and clothes to change afterwards. The caves are not advertised, but they are officially open to the public. They are managed by the Department of Conservation, and they offer some information. Nevertheless, we are not happy with this info, actually we would like to have a survey of the cave and some hints on what to expect. The tourist visitors are neither educated nor equipped for the hazards of a wild cave. This one offers wading through waist deep water, so it is definitely caving. If you actually want to enter the caves, we recommend gum boots, caving overall, helmet, headlamp, and reserve lamps (at least two). Never cave alone and leave a return time with a trustee.

If you want to avoid the dangers of caving, we nevertheless recommend the site for a visit. At the caves, a hiking trail starts. The area around the caves is a typical karst area with many fine sights, like karren, strangely eroded rocks, and dolines. The trail is 2 km long and shows the most interesting sights of this karst, like karren and sinkholes. It is an easy 1.5-hour walk through picturesque landscape across farmland and regenerating bush.