Known hazards - Waipū Caves and Council reserves

Photo of trees fallen in Mander Park after Cyclone Gabrielle in February 2023.

Our parks and reserves are public spaces that offer various opportunities for recreation, enjoyment and conservation.

However, they may also have some potential hazards that users should be aware of and avoid.

Reduce the risk

To reduce the risk of these hazards, users of our parks and reserves should follow some basic guidelines:

  • Check the weather forecast and avoid visiting during extreme conditions such as heavy rain, strong wind, or storm events.
  • Check this website for warnings and closures.
  • Follow the advice of any warning and closure signs at the park or reserve you are visiting.
  • Follow the advice of any staff present at the park or reserve you are visiting.
  • Stay on the designated tracks and trails and do not venture into restricted or unstable areas.
  • Be prepared for emergencies and carry a first-aid kit, a torch, a phone, and some water and food.
  • Adventure operators must ensure they have a Council permit prior to undertaking commercial adventure activities.
  • For abseiling activities, do not assume that any anchor points have been placed there by us, or are certified. Please report these, as we will remove any unauthorised anchor points, if practical to do this.

Report any hazards or incidents to us as soon as possible on 09 430 4200 or 0800 932 463 (24 hours a day).

We hope this information helps you enjoy your visit to the our parks and reserves safely and responsibly.

Caving activities

Occasionally, operators request consent to undertake caving activities at Waipū Caves.

The Health and Safety at Work (Adventure Activities) Regulations require operators who offer adventure activities to be safety audited, registered and to have safety management plans in place.

They should also be registered as an adventure activity operator.

Some of the common hazards that may be found are:

  • Changing water levels: water levels can rise from rain, be fast flowing or be very shallow in dry conditions or aerated with reduced buoyancy.
  • Slippery conditions: the damp nature of the caves creates a very slippery environment.
  • Getting assistance: the caves have limited access and often involve constricted space which can make emergency evacuation difficult.
  • Lack of communication: cell phones may not have reception in the cave environment.
  • Cold temperatures: cold air or water temperatures can lead to safety issues for participants.
  • Lack of natural light: can lead to falling of ledges or hitting objects. It can lead to getting disorientated and lost or separated from the group.
  • Falling objects: are a significant hazard in caves with the potential to injure large numbers of people without warning.
  • Changes to hazards: natural events such as floods, rock fall, cave roof or formation collapse may impact on known hazards or create new hazards.
  • Protecting caves: cave environments can easily be damaged. Please protect our natural environments.
  • Exposure to edges and falling: the caves have high slippery ledges and falling may cause harm.
  • Rapid changes in water depth: can be present and not always visible so don’t assume the depth is consistent.
  • Other hazards that are unknown to us at the time the activity is intended to take place.

Parks and reserves

Some of the common hazards that may be found are:


This is the wearing away of the land surface by natural forces such as water, wind, or ice.

Erosion can cause coastal cliffs, riverbanks, or slopes to become unstable and collapse, posing a risk of injury or damage to people and property.

Digging into sandbanks and other unstable materials could cause engulfment.

Falling debris

This is the movement of soil, rock, or items such as epiphytes falling from trees, from higher to lower ground, usually due to gravity or weather conditions.

Falling debris can cause injuries, damage, or blockages to roads, tracks, or structures.

Fallen trees can block tracks and pathways.


This is the sinking or lowering of the ground level due to various factors such as groundwater extraction, mining, or earthquakes.

Subsidence can cause cracks, holes, or uneven surfaces on the land, affecting the stability and safety of buildings, roads, or infrastructure.

The uneven, wet or muddy surfaces can cause slips, trips and falls.


This is the covering of land by water due to various causes such as flooding, overland flow, storm surge, tidal effects, or ponding.

Inundation can result in water damage, contamination, or loss of access to property or facilities.

Stock and animals

Harm and injuries from wandering stock, other animals and dogs off leash.


Some reserves include very steep terrain and sheer drops.

Adverse weather

Adverse weather causing unexpected flooding, or some health conditions arising from weather extremes, such as sunstroke, heat stress or hypothermia.


Drowning hazards from nearby waterways, drains and ponds.

Project or maintenance work

On occasion, our contractors may be undertaking project or maintenance work that may pose a hazard, such as lawn mowing, weed eating and control, track maintenance, tree maintenance or other work.

Our contractors may pause their work to let you pass or stop altogether if the risk is high.

Please respect any barriers around high-risk work.


There may be other hazards on site that we are unaware of.