7 Tips to Master the Cave Stream at Arthurs Pass

7 Tips to Master the Cave Stream at Arthurs Pass

New Zealand
New Zealand

When Is the Best Time

The best months for this once in a lifetime adventure are during summer from December to April. In winter, from June to August, it is cold; the water temperature will be near freezing, and the water level is too high for caving.

The walking path to Cave Steam entrance.
The trail down to the entrance; cave in the riverbed to the right.

A wetsuit is already recommended in April. Hypothermia is an underestimated risk. The water is cold as hell!

We did this adventure twice, once in summer and again beginning of April, and we were able to withstand the cold with our neoprene much better. 

A man standing in the cave on a rock watching the Broken River
The powerful and cold Broken River in the cave. 

The Broken River Cave is busy during summer; be there either early or late in the day; otherwise, you line up wet and freezing inside the cave instead of enjoying. 

Essential to Know

One waterfall inside the cave stream
Climbing up was challenging for me, and a helping hand was essential.

Not advisable with a high water level! The deepest section is situated at the beginning of the cave adventure. If the water level is higher than your waist level, don't continue! It gets pretty cold, strenuous, and the water pressure is immense.

Climbing through the stream inside the cave
The cave is spectacular, always leading up.

Also, do not enter if it is raining; it can cause flooding! If the water of the river is not clear, you also should not enter the cave. The most demanding obstacles at a high water level are the second waterfall (1.50m high) and the last at the end to reach the metal handles.

The breathtaking cave in the beginning with a low water level
The cave is winding and narrow in sections.

We did this cave twice in February with a low water level easy to manage and in April with a higher water level. It was very challenging, we had to help each other, and although wearing a wetsuit, it was pretty cold. Don't underestimate the length of 600 m wading through the chilly river.

Weather Castle Hill

Information Board at the viewpoint

Precipitation occurs throughout the year. The wettest month is October and the driest February. The annual rainfall is roughly 1000 mm in comparison Arthurs Pass experiences about 4.500 mm a year. January is the warmest month but, on average, still below 20°C.

The Broken River Cave Stream in the summer.
Usually, a low water level in January and February.

During summer, temperatures frequently rise to 25°C. Expect almost freezing temps during winter.

Accommodations Close to Cave Stream

There are just two lodges next to the Cave Stream adventure. The Porters Lodge is situated in the mountains and has more of a hostel character with an excellent restaurant. The other option is the Springfield Motel and Lodge, which offers well-equipped studios and rooms with shared facilities. 

Best Months to Visit

Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec

Location and Tips

Castle Hill
New Zealand
New Zealand

The Cave Stream Scenic Reserve is located about 50 km from Arthur's Pass. This almost 600 m long limestone cave provides a unique adventure, walking self-guided upstream through a river in pitch darkness.

Man with headlamp in the cave and standing in water.
Our first experience was during a hot summer day in Feb.

We did this cave twice, and it always took us half an hour to walk and climb through it. Depending on the water level, it can be utterly challenging to get through the cave.

A man walking through the cave
Clothes are wet until the waist while mine until the chest.

Persons below 1.60 meters may need assistance to climb up at the five waterfalls in the cave stream. The first section of the cave is the deepest. With a high water level climbing up the minor waterfalls, you get utterly wet, at least until your waist. I was fallen into the river when I tried to climb up a waterfall but. luckily wearing a neoprene wetsuit.

The 3 m high waterfall and the metal handles to the left to climb out.
This is the most difficult part to leave the cave.

When you reach the three-meter-high waterfall at the end, look to the left and you discover metal handles to climb up. Hard for smaller people like me to reach. Afterwards, you need to crawl along a chain to get to the exit of the cave.

The exit of the cave stream.
You exit the cave here, then crawl out under the ledge.

A good fitness level and some experience would help to master the cave stream without too many difficulties.

Trail to the Entrance of the Cave

A man walking out of the cave
The exit of Cave Stream.

From the car park (facilities provided) follow the trail always to the right to get to the entrance. There are two river crossings to reach the cave entrance. If the water level is too high for crossing, don't even think about entering the cave.

Google Maps Location Cave Stream Scenic Reserve Parking

7 Tips for the Caving Adventure

Information Board to prepare well

  1. Check the weather forecast. Don't go while it is raining.
    Weather forecast Castle Hill - Cave Stream
  2. Never go alone!
  3. Always walk upstream!
  4. Let someone know that you plan to hike through the Broken River Cave!
  5. Wear proper clothes and shoes, either a wetsuit or woollen clothes like Icebreaker! We saw people in Teva, but consider loose rocks are in the riverbed.
  6. Carry an additional torch to find the way in pitch darkness.
  7. Have a proper meal an hour or so before; much energy is needed on this challenging adventure.

 

A couple in wetsuits after their adventure in the cave stream.
We were wet and cold but full of adrenaline and happy after the strenuous adventure.

No entrance fee is required.

Nearby are limestone formations known from the Narnia movie: "The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe”.

Disclaimer: I am not responsible for any injury, death, or consequences of any actions taken based on the information provided here. This is just my experience! Always safety first, don't enter the cave if not well prepared or the river level is too high. 

All pictures were taken by me or my husband Markus. If you wish to use one get in contact with me.

Nearby Adventurous Trips

Man crossing a river
The Ballroom Overhang in the Paparoa National Park

This is an 8 River Crossing Hike into the hear of the Paparoa National Park. It is a bit strenuous and rarely crowded.

The lush rainforest on the Mount Tuhua Trail
The breathtaking rainforest on the Mount Tuhua Trail

If you are into hiking and don't mind to get muddy this steep rainforest hike to the top of Mount Tuhua close to Hokitika is perfect for you.

Comments

Micha Herber-Bleich

It's one of the most thrilling things I ever did self-guided. Nevertheless, most challenging are the last waterfall due to the powerful flow and the ice-cold water. I was not able to climb up the waterfalls without a helping hand and got wet until my chest. It's a tough track; you need to be well prepared!

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Created by
Micha Herber-Bleich
Micha Herber-Bleich
I am always open, curious about new…