Cave Stream - Arthurs Pass

Cave Stream - Arthurs Pass

nz New Zealand

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When Is the Best Time

When Is the Best Time

The best months for this once in a lifetime adventure are during summer from December to April. In winter from June to August it can be extremely cold; the temperature of the water will be near freezing, and the water level is too high for caving. A wetsuit is already recommended in April. Hypothermia is an underestimated risk. The Broken River Cave is frequented during summer; be there either early or late in the day otherwise, you are queuing wet inside the cave instead of enjoying. 

Inside the Broken River Cave, Cave Stream New Zealand
The powerful Broken River - The Cave Stream

Not advisable with a high water level. The deepest section is situated at the beginning of the cave adventure. If the water level is higher than your waist level, don't continue. It gets pretty cold, strenuous, and the water pressure is immense. Also, do not enter if it is raining; it can cause flooding! If the water of the river is not clear you also should not enter the cave. The most demanding obstacles at high water level are the second waterfall (1.50m high) and the last one at the end to reach the metal handles.

We did this cave twice once in February with a low water level easy to manage and in April with a higher water level. It was very challenging, we had to help each other, and although wearing a wetsuit it was pretty cold.

Weather Castle Hill

Precipitation occurs throughout the year. The wettest month is October and the driest February. The annual rainfall is roughly 1000 mm in comparison Arthurs Pass experiences about 4.500 mm a year. January is the warmest month but on average still below 20°C. Anyhow during summer temps around 25°C can happen. Almost freezing temps during winter.

Accommodations Close to Cave Stream

There are just two lodges next to the Cave Stream adventure. The Porters Lodge is situated in the mountains and has more a hostel character with an excellent restaurant. The other option is the Springfield Motel and Lodge. They offer well-equipped studios and rooms with shared facilities. 

Where and Tips

Castle Hill
New Zealand

The Cave Stream Scenic Reserve is located about 50 km from Arthur's Pass. This almost 600 m long limestone cave provides a unique adventure, walking self-guided upstream through a river in pitch darkness. We did this cave twice and it always took us half an hour to walk and climb through it. Depending on the water level it can be very challenging. Persons below 1.60 meters may need assistance to climb up at the five waterfalls in the cave stream. The first section of the cave is the deepest. With a high water level climbing up the minor waterfalls you get utterly wet at least until your waist. When you reach the three meters high waterfall at the end have a look to the left and you discover metal handles to climb up. Afterward, you need to crawl along a chain to get to the exit of the cave.

The exit of the cave stream where crawling is necessary

Trail Description to the Entrance

From the car park (facilities provided) follow the trail always to the right to get to the entrance. To reach the cave entrance you have to cross the river twice. If the water level is too high for crossing, it is not recommended to walk through the cave. 

Trail to the Cave Stream entrance in New Zealand

Please Keep in Mind
  1. Check the weather forecast. Don't go while it is raining.
    Weather forecast Castle Hill - Cave Stream
  2. Never go alone!
  3. Always walk upstream!
What to Bring and Wear
  • Headlight, additional torch, and spare batteries
  • Wool clothing or wetsuit, depending on the month
  • Appropriate shoes, not Teva   

No entrance fee required.

Nearby are limestone formations which are known from the Narnia movie: "The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe”.



It's one of the most thrilling things I ever did self-guided. Nevertheless, most challenging are the last waterfall due to the powerful flow and the ice-cold water. I was not able to climb up the waterfalls without a helping hand and got wet until my chest. It's a tough track; you need to be well prepared!

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