Rawhiti Cave

Manson Cave

Useful Information

Location: Golden Bay, South Island, New Zealand.
7 km east of Takaka at Motupipi. From Nelson West on the Coastal Highway, across Motueka, over Takaka Hill to Takaka, then to Motupipi, turn right into Glenview Road, then left into Packard Road. 600 m before the end of the road Rawhiti Cave is signposted to the left. Follow gravel single lane road to the end through private property to an informal car park.
(-40.8853726, 172.8665042)
Open: no restrictions.
Fee: free.
Classification: SpeleologyKarst cave
Light: bring torch
Guided tours:  
Bibliography: Jane Baird (1994): Rawhiti Caves, Takaka - New Zealand, Australasian Cave & Karst Management Journal, nr.15, June 1994, pp 25-26. (photos).
Address: Rawhiti Cave, Clifton Rd, RD 1, Clifton, Golden Bay, Tel: +64-3-525-9061
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.


1955 area purchased by the Baird family.
1988 re-opened for tourists.
2000 bought by the New Zealand National Heritage Trust.


Rawhiti Cave has one of the largest cave entrances in New Zealand. Rawhiti is the Maori word for sunrise. It is reached on a one-hour walk, first 30 minutes from an unofficial parking lot up the valley, then steep up on side of the valley to the enormous entrance. The cave is almost undeveloped, except for the trail to and into the cave.

Good shoes and appropriate clothes are as essential as something to drink and good lamps. Physical fitness is required. The cave is actually not dangerous, at least not more than hiking in the mountains in general. Only the entrance area is visited, so helmet and light are not really needed, nevertheless we recommend taking them with you. The cave is owned by the New Zealand National Heritage Trust and managed by the Department of Conservation (DOC). It is open, not gated, and it is allowed to enter the cave. Nevertheless, it is protected by law, so please do not destroy anything and try not to touch the formations.

The cave was owned for the second half of the 20th century by the Baird family. They conducted tours into the cave for a fee and made some basic developments. Since the cave is owned by the New Zealand National Heritage Trust the tours are discontinued, and the DOC removed most of the human traces. The 164 ha part of this karst area are now called Baird Reserve. One of the links below is a very good description by Jane Baird, cave guide for eleven years, which was originally published in the Australasian Cave & Karst Management Journal. The Tourist Information Center at Takaka provides a two-page description of the cave and how to reach it for a nominal fee.