Code To guide Actions
The Society expects that the following code will help to guide the actions of New Zealand Speleological Society affiliated clubs and individual members, and promote an ethical approach to caving by other cave users.
Conservation and Protection of Caves:
• We will take care to avoid destruction or disfiguration of cave decorations (speleothems), and any other natural feature of caves.
• During exploration sensitive areas will be taped off and routes will be marked for future use.
•In sensitive areas tracks will be rigidly adhered to, and where applicable route markers followed.
• We will not disfigure caves by unnecessary markings. Survey marks will be small, inconspicuous and removable.
• In areas of clean flowstone floors, muddy clothing or boots will be removed.
• We will not leave rubbish in caves: our own or other people's, flash bulbs, batteries, wrappings, and other refuse must be carried out of the cave.
• We will carry spent carbide out of the cave and wherever possible encourages the use of battery operated lights.
• We will where practical discourage camping in caves.
Under usual circumstances we will discourage the practice of urinating or leaving faeces in caves.
• Faeces should not be left in caves under any circumstances use a poo tube and adopt a pack in pack out practise.
• When carrying out water tracing work only those tracing agents, which present no danger to the cave flora or fauna, will be used.
• We will also ensure that water supplies are not adversely affected by tracing agents, and before carrying out experiments we will obtain water rights from the applicable catchment authority.
• We will not construct a gate or a barrier in a cave without first obtaining approval of NZSS Council, and the landowner or administering authority.
• We will not construct a gate in a cave without an accompanying sign explaining the reason for restricting access, and the circumstances under which authorised visits are possible.
• We will not interfere with, force, or damage a legitimately erected gate or barrier.
• Bolts for rigging in caves should only be used as a last resort.
•Under no circumstances will modifications be made to a cave, or cave entrance, other than to gain access.
• We will not remove any deposit, speleothem, sub-fossil remains, flora or fauna, or any other naturally occurring thing from a cave or karst area without first obtaining permission from the administering authority.
• Anything removed from a cave or karst area where permission is granted will, where appropriate, be lodged with a recognised museum or scientific organisation.
• The classification of caves and karst areas for the purpose of conservation and preservation will be in accordance with the Society's Cave and Karst Management Policy.
• We will honour the classification of caves and karst areas determined by government agencies e.g. Department of Conservation.
• The Society will consult government agencies to assist them in preparing classifications of caves and karst areas.
• We will respect Maori tapu relating to burial caves and will not enter such caves without permission. All human remains, artefacts, and other objects will be left undisturbed. No photographs will be taken without obtaining permission.
• When camping in natural areas or on farmland we shall carefully observe the established Minimum Impact Code and rules of good camping conduct, especially in the lighting of fires and the removal of rubbish.
•We will bury our faeces when camping.
• In order to conserve and protect our cave and karst resource we shall encourage other organisations or groups that use caves to adopt these guidelines.
Cavers and Landowners
• We will seek and confirm specific approval in advance from the owner before entering a cave or crossing private property. On no account will we take access for granted.
• We will respect the privacy of landowners.
• We will respect restrictions placed on access to caves, for example, during the lambing season.
• We will take care to avoid interference with crops or stock, and ensure that all gates are left as found.
• We will, where a cave entrance has been blocked by the landowner to prevent injury to stock, re-block the entrance after use; and will liaise with the owner to erect a fence or some other mutually satisfactory means of protecting the entrance.
• We will not conduct any substantial dig, or use explosives, on the surface or underground without the permission of the landowner (or administering authority).
• We will make secure or cover any hole, which has occurred as a result.
• We will not be accompanied by a dog, or carry a firearm without the prior consent of the landowner (or administering authority).
• We will always have available a current Society membership card to show the landowner (administering authority) when necessary.
• We will obtain permission from the managing authority before entering a tourist cave, and will treat guides and other officials courteously.
•We will when visiting the area of another group or club co-operate and liaise with that group/club.
• We will be discreet in disseminating information that might endanger caves or karst areas. In particular we should not reveal the location of entrances to the general public.
• We will not publish, or draw media attention to scientifically, ecologically, or physically sensitive caves or karst areas without prior consultation with NZSS Council.
• We will in reporting our work, particularly to the media, avoid and discourage sensationalism, exaggeration and unwarranted statements.
• We will, in publishing our work, take particular care to acknowledge other people's contribution to the work involved, either as clubs, groups or individuals, whether by published work, personal communications, or whatever.
•We will not disseminate GPS coordinates of cave locations except in special cases where approval has been given by the NZSS Council.
Ethics in Detail
NZSS policy regarding bones is to leave them where they are unless they inevitably will be destroyed. All previously unexplored passages should be viewed as a source of sub-fossils and due caution should be taken when first exploring a passage. If bones are seen they should be taped off or placed out of harm's way nearby.Bones should only be removed from caves if they are to be housed in a public collection by those who are suitably qualified. Waitomo Caves Museum maintains a properly documented and catalogued collection. Collections are also held at Auckland University, Canterbury Museum, and the National Museum. An introduction to the sub-fossil remains found in caves (around Waitomo) is now available at the Waitomo Caves Museum.
Bats are very sensitive to disturbance, and as they are rare and endangered, should not be interfered with when found.
Collecting or killing cave animals may seriously deplete populations. Please leave them alone unless taking part in a legitimate scientific programme.
Cave speleothems (formations) include stalagmites, stalactites, straws, helictites, coral and crystals of all shapes and styles. It is strictly forbidden to remove any formation including broken bits except with the permission of the land manager and the NZSS Council. A detailed description of speleothems has been published by the Waitomo Caves Museum.
Access to Caves:
If the cave is on private property, permission must be obtained from the owner or manager. This is very important for the future access of cavers to all caves.
Most caves on the public estate (e.g. Department of Conservation) are "Open Access" to cavers, but a permit is necessary in some cases.
At present caves which need permits include:
• Aurora (Te Anau),
• Babylon and Hollywood Caves (Paparoa National Park),
• Honeycomb Hill Cave (Kahurangi National Park),
• Hollow Hill,
• Bone Passage in Gardners Gut (Waitomo),
• Puketiti Flower Cave (North Taranaki), from Department of Conservation, and
• Wiri Lava Cave (Auckland) from KiwiRail.