Maori Leap Cave

Useful Information

Location: 3 km south of Kaikoura. Near the Caves Restaurant.
Open: All year daily six tours.
Cave restaurant: all year daily 7-late.
Classification: Speleologysea cave. Kaikoura limestone.
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Dimension: L=100 m.
Guided tours: D=45 min.
Address: Maori Leap Cave, Scott and Marg Robinson, SH1 RD Kaikoura, Tel: +64-3-319-5023, Fax: +64-3-319-5023.
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.


1958 discovered at a limestone quarry.


Maori Leap Cave is operated by the owners of the Caves Restaurant, which is the place where the tours start. The owners call it a sea cave in their brochures, which astonished us a bit. The cave was formed in limestone and shows nice speleothems. Although the limestone is obviously of marine origin, we guess this is a normal karst cave. However they tell that there was a natural entrance to the sea which collapsed about 6000 years ago. The bones of penguins found in the cave are interpreted as birds who used the cave for breeding and were trapped when the entrance collapsed. The bones were dated to be some 6000 years old.

The name Maori Leap reminds of a legend about a warrior in an inter-tribal battle. A war party from the North Island came to a village close to the cave. One young warrior was faced with the choice of being captured and becoming a slave or jumping for freedom. He leapt(hence Maori leap) off the cliffs and supposedly survived, all other members of his tribe were caught. Another legend which is also told is about thwarted lovers from different tribes. They were not so lucky, they leaped into their death here.

Actually the Maori did not know of the cave, as it was discovered 1958 during quarry works. So there is no connection between the Maori settlement and the cave except the geographic proximity and the search of the owner for a name which sound good.

The entrance is located in an abandoned quarry and closed by an iron gate. When it was discovered during quarry works, it was not todays entrance which was found. The cave was soon developed as a show cave and is open for the public since then. Later todays entrance tunnel was built to make access easier. The cave and the abandoned quarry are owned by a local farmer, and managed by Scott and Marg Robinson.