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Abbey Caves

Image for the Abbey Caves Walking Track page.
This page contains information about the Abbey Caves walkway - amazing limestone outcrops and a lovely loop walk.
Updated: 18/12/2018 11:29 a.m.
Photograph of rock outcrop at Abbey Caves.

Rock outcrop at Abbey Caves

The Abbey Caves Reserve comprises of naturally sculptured limestone outcrops, bluffs, enclosed depressions, sink holes and three significant caves, Organ, Middle and Ivy. 

Two distinct areas of native bush with well established podocarp-hardwood forest include particularly fine specimens of puriri trees.

Nathaniel and Amelia Clotworthy settled on 409 acres here in about 1860. Their house in the limestone outcrops resembled an Irish ‘abbey’ leading to the name. 

The house was destroyed ny fire in 1920 but the site is still marked by chimney remains. A grave of one of the Clotworthy children also remains from 1884.

The land was bought by the Golden Bay Cement Company as a site to establish a mine, but in 1989 they sold it to the then City Council as a reserve for the people of Whangarei.

Track description

Access is over a steep wooden stile and down a series of box steps onto a circular walkway of mown grass. The three caves are signposted and lie just off this walkway. Look out for waymarks, which help identify the walkway. There are a number of step stiles over internal fences.

Only experienced cavers should enter underground, as there are risks from rapidly rising water and roof falls. The Organ Cave entrance is dangerous due to a roof fall.

What to expect

  • grass paths that may be muddy and slippery after rain
  • high ladder stile and steps at entrance
  • large rocks to be negotiated in places
  • seasonal grazing by livestock
  • electric fencing (marked).

To download and print a map of the track, follow the link below.

Abbey Caves track map [244kb]

How to get to Abbey Caves

The reserve is situated on Abbey Caves Road on the outskirts of Whangarei. 

Take Mill Road north out of the city and turn right along Whareora Road.

After 3 km, turn right onto Abbey Caves Road and follow it for about 800 metres. 

There is a sign for the site on the left hand side of the road and a lay-by and roadside parking area.  

Location:  Abbey Caves Road, Whangarei


​Summer Safe


Between December and April, community volunteers will patrol the carpark at this popular walk during daylight hours at weekends and on public holidays.

The aim is to look after our visitors and prevent theft and crime. 




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