Some amazing limestone outcrops and streams disappearing into underground caves, all seen from a lovely loop walk. This page contains information about the Abbey Caves walkway, including a description of the track and the features of interest to look out for.
18/05/2012 2:43 p.m.
What are the Abbey Caves?
The Abbey Caves are naturally sculptured limestone outcrops, bluffs, enclosed depressions, sink holes and three significant caves.
What's special about Abbey Caves?
Abbey Caves Reserve is 18.7 ha in area and 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 includes particularly fine specimens of puriri trees.
Nathaniel and Amelia Clotworthy settled on 409 acres here, around 1860. Their house in the limestone outcrops resembled an Irish ‘abbey’ leading to the name. This house unfortunately burned down in 1920 but the site is still marked by chimney remains and some datura trees. A grave of one of the Clotworthy children also remains from 1884.
The land was bought by the Golden Bay Cement Company with a view to mining it, but in 1989 they sold it to the then City Council for a reduced sum as a reserve for the people of Whangarei.
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.
Only experienced cavers should enter underground, as there are risks from rapidly rising water and roof falls. A recent roof fall at the entrance to the Organ Cave has made this cave dangerous. Look out for waymarks, which help identify the walkway. There are a number of step stiles over internal fences.
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
Abbey Caves are situated on Abbey Caves Road on the outskirts of Whangarei. Take Mill Road north out of the city then turn east along Whareora Road and go a further 3km. Turn south onto Abbey Caves Road and after 800 metres, there is a sign for the site on the left hand side of the road. There is a metal lay-by and parking area for about three cars at the roadside.