SAFE CAVING

We want you to have safe and enjoyable caving trips. As well you enjoying the challenge of traversing a cave it is important that you do not adversely impact the cave environment or the fauna and flora that live within it. Cavers try and tread lightly and minimise their impact, so that others can follow and enjoy the cave as much as them. This can be summarised in the widely adopted outdoor code Leave No Trace which is described below.

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Plan ahead and prepare
Make sure you have contacted the property owner and got permission to visit. Have the right gear and level of experience required for the cave. The best way to do this is to go with other experienced cavers and by going on club trips organised by your local caving group. Make sure someone knows where you are going and when you are expected back.

Travel and camp on durable ground
When travelling to cave entrances stick to formed tracks or durable ground to minimise damage to plants. Cavers rarely camp underground except on large expeditions as it is not particularly comfortable and staying in one place for extended periods can cause a lot of damage. Travelling on durable ground means not risking walking on virgin cave formation, taking your packs off when crawling so as not to break stalactites or straws and not walking on ancient mud banks which may look ‘fresh’ but could be hundreds of years old. Caves aren’t really affected by anything else other than humans, any damage that we do is permanent. Cave formations can take a millennia to form but only a second to break. Tape and string lines are used to protect particularly delicate areas.
Respect wildlife and farm animals
As in the principle above, it is fine to take photos of any eels, fish, spiders, wetas or kura you find in caves – but leave them alone. Similarly when crossing farm paddocks to or from a cave entrance be aware of and minimise your risk of spooking farm animals. Leave all farm gates as you found them. Also be aware of electric fences, the current conducts through wet caving overalls or metal hardware!

Be considerate of others
By “Others” we mean not only other cave users but also landowners, treat any private land as your own back yard. Leave things inside and outside the cave as you would want to find them.
Minimise the effects of fire
Fires in cave entrances can cause discolouration to the roof and formations. Keep stoves away from cave walls.

Leave what you find
Be it a rock, a piece of cave formation, a weta or anything else, leave it where you found it. This ensures the cave can not only be enjoyed by others but the eco system remains. Boot washing stations are sometimes found before clean areas of formation, please obey signage. Graffiti of any kind is not acceptable.
Dispose of Waste Properly
Pack out absolutely everything you take in, including faeces. Urinating in streams is acceptable but avoided if possible.
Cave Leadership
NZSS has a short guide on good cave leadership which you can find via the link below. There can be more than one ‘leader’ on a trip and it is a hallmark of NZ cavers that they take care of each other on a trip to make it challenging but enjoyable for all.

Harwood’s Hole
Harwood’s hole has had many rescues and callouts in recent years. This is mainly caused by inexperienced parties getting lost in the cave or trying to return on the steep, ill-defined path. There have also been incidents caused by gear failure and people getting to the bottom and realising they were completely out of their depth. You need experienced cavers who know the cave to be sure of a safe and enjoyable trip.

Neither the local caving club nor NZSS provide a guiding service through Harwood’s Hole.

Please refer to the Department of Conservation guidelines for pragmatic advice.
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