Adventures in the Dark

March 4, 2013

My last post was about the Craigieburn Enduro. It was fun, but the fun didn’t actually end with the bike race. The next day we went on a subterranean mission though Cave Stream.

Cave Stream is the least creative name ever as it sounds, a stream that runs through a tunnel like cave. It’s right by Craigieburn and Castle Hill, about 90 minutes west of Christchurch. Scott and I ran across this place 2 years ago actually, but we didn’t partake at the time due to lack of flashlights and the fact that it was raining outside. 

So 6 of us took off for our little adventure. Half of the crew had done it before and were uber prepared in the warm clothing department. I, on the other hand, packed a bikini and water shoes. Don’t go judging me though… Scott packed board shorts and normal every day shoes. You’d think we’d never been outside the city. Jeez. So dressed in bike clothes and borrowed wool jerseys, we set off…
Approaching the cave, you’d never know there was anything special happening in this hill, but one turn to the left, and you have this:
If I’m being honest, my reaction to gaping holes in the earth is usually, “Hey, lets actually go the other way.” Deep dark places tend to be home to icky spidery things and slimy sludgy stuff. My adventurous side and my XX chromosomes always battle though, because I really want to see what’s in there. Without touching it. Tricky.
Cave Stream is a limestone tunnel, 594 meters in length. And I just found out that its true name is Broken River Cave, thank you wikipedia. I was also just about to rave about the absence of spidery icky things, but the internet just informed me that not only is there an “abundance of invertebrate fauna”, but Cave Stream is also home to a rare spider called the Cave Harvestman. It is only found in this cave and one other cave in the whole world. This spider eats the invertebrate and other “small cave creatures”. Wait, I thought there were only invertebrates. And the (disgustingly named) Harvestman Spider. Now there’s small cave creatures too?
I’m damn thankful I didn’t go googling this adventure before it happened.
Our group easing into the water for the first time…
Navigating the cave… unaware the Cave Harvestman is watching… plotting…
Actually, when traversing through the cave it truly does feel devoid of flora and fauna. The water is so clear and the limestone walls look fake. I told Scott I felt like somebody at Disneyland let me inside a secret tunnel in the Matterhorn. Super glad we didn’t run into any abominable snow men though…
We look stunned because we all turned our headlamps off so that the camera could get a good photo. Complete darkness, then FLASH!
The nature of the limestone lends to fun rock climbing experimentation
Such crystal clear water!… at about 40-something degrees. Brr!
The entire adventure took about an hour, which is probably about the most amount of time one should spend in cold water in a cold cave. It could be done a lot faster too… but we took every opportunity to check out fingers of offshoot tunnels (probably where the 8 legged terrorist lives… gah!) and clamber around on the rocks.
A waterfall at the end requires the adventurer to either scale a large rock wall, or climb these rungs… both sketchy!
Light at the end of the tunnel, as they say…
Hiking back up to the car, beautiful New Zealand, and a water droplet on the lens.

If you’re thinking of checking out Cave Stream, and I really do highly recommend it, don’t forget the following:

Warm clothes on top, wool is pretty essential
Board shorts or wool tights (jeans are dangerous!)
Headlamp or flashlight, 1 per person
Good solid shoes- definitely no flip flops!
Waterproof camera
Sacrificial offering for the Cave Harvestman

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1 Comment

  • Reply Lori March 4, 2013 at 5:51 am

    Love reading about your adventures!

  • Come on, you must want to tell me something!