A few weeks ago, I explored Rawhiti Cave in New Zealand. The hike was an easy level which equates to a difficult 40 minute uphill trek that had me dripping with sweat and out of breath. I’ve come to the conclusion that no treks are easy in New Zealand. Gone are the flat fields and smooth rolling paths of Michigan, everything is uphill here. I had just reached the point where I wondered if I would ever make it, grumbling under my breath and then there it was. I saw it peaking through the trees, stalactites hanging and framed between green foliage. As I neared the cave, it grew in size to the point where I was dwarfed in its enormity. I was the only one there and there was something about the place that was a imposing and a bit dark. A huge primal mouth opened and yawned out of the earth with rounded spikes poking out from it. I yelled into the darkness. “Hello, hello, hello…”, it echoed. The air was cool and the shadows grew longer the deeper inside I went.
I have been exploring New Zealand for a month now and find it a great and beautiful country. It seems mostly untouched and sparsely populated on the South Island. While the features are spectacular, they are similar to things I have seen at home and around the world. Today changed that as I stood inside Rawhiti Cave, which is believed to be over one million years old. I was just a tiny blip in the stretch of time this cave has existed. It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen and I had it all to myself. One lone woman standing on the edge of the ancient.
For more information and directions to the cave which are near Takaka on New Zealand’s South Island visit this website. You will have to go through a private farm’s field and gates. The parking is on the other side. Fresh fruit and vegetables are available, paying by the honor system, at a booth just outside the drive.