Are the kids keen to clamber through dark spooky caves? Or perch themselves above ancient collapsed caves? We have rounded up three of the best kid-friendly underground adventures to explore near Hamilton.
Kāniwhaniwha Caves | Pirongia Forest Park
Don’t mind getting up close and personal to weta? Then this 30 metre long muddy cave should be on the list to explore. It’s the biggest limestone cave in the park and aside from a few tight corners to navigate, it’s kid-friendly. No dogs allowed and you’ll need to bring a torch. There is plenty of parking near the walk entrance on Limeworks Loop Road near Te Pahū.
Time: It is part of the longer Nikau Walk so allow 2.5 hours for the walk and detour to the caves.
Accessibility: The cave is dark, muddy and you’ll get wet feet. Aside from that, the walk to the caves is nice and easy. The Nikau Walk is suitable for bikes and buggies however the detour to the caves is walking only.
Mangapohue Natural Bridge | Waitomo
This walk in the middle of dramatic limestone countryside takes you inside the heart of an ancient collapsed cave. The 17 metre high limestone arch looms ahead after you navigate the boardwalk clinging to the sheer cliff face. After rain the goblin swing bridge covered in moss looks awesome!
Time: Allow five minutes to stroll to the viewing platform.
Accessibility: Very buggy and wheelchair friendly to the base of the stairs below the upper lookout.
Rail Tunnel Loop | Karangahake Gorge
While not a ‘natural cave’ this historic rail tunnel is a crowd-pleaser. It takes you deep into a cliff above a dramatic gorge. The one kilometre long tunnel stretches towards a tiny pinprick of light in the distance and once you pop out you can wander back beside the Ōhinemuri River to the car park.
Time: Allow 90 minutes for the 3.2 kilometre loop.
Accessibility: It’s buggy and bike friendly through the tunnel however the return loop is not ideal for buggies and no bikes are allowed.