Sunday, June 11, 2017

Clifden Limestone Caves and Suspension Bridge

On the drive yesterday from Lake Hauroko, the light autumn-perfect, we decide to check out the Clifden Limestone Caves.

The Clifden limestone caves are one of few cave systems in Southland. The limestone at Clifden formed in the early Miocene time (over a million years ago) from the accumulation of shell fragments, sand and pebbles in a shallow sea.  This sediment was buried and compressed beneath further layers of sediment and later folded, uplifted and eroded to form the present land surface.  The caves contain various formations such as stalactites, stalagmites, cave weta and are an ideal environment for glow-worms to live in.

Click here to read more about cave weta, a group of insects endemic to NZ (finding out more about everything must be why I can't get off the internet).

Cave safely, cave softly. The literature recommends carrying two torches (flashlights) per person along with backup batteries, but we're no spelunkers, friends, so we just took one torch each.

Bye, honey.

OK, so I'm right behind him, but with the dim flashlight. Art throws some light so I can make a picture.

The instructions say it takes 1.5 to 2 hours to move through the cave system. It also advises that a 
high level of fitness and agility is required to navigate it.

Some passages are narrow and will require crawling on hands and knees. 

It was fun until Art, using his torch to show me the way ahead, banged his head hard on a low-hanging rock. After our walk-crawl at Lake Hauroko, it didn't take much to turn us back to the cave entrance (though I couldn't stop laughing).  We need headlamps and gloves for our next try. 

Postscript: sure enough, we got into the car and traveled a bit down the road to see a young helmeted guy crawling out of what looked like a slit in the ground. He'd done the whole thing!
We almost didn't stop at the suspension bridge, but how happy we were that we did. The shot above was taken from it (it's closed to cars). How easy it is to forget life's challenges before all the engineering that connects us.

118 years old 

The Waiau River and its rocky shoreline.
Lakes, caves, and bridges: it was a full and glorious day.

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