I get a lot of ‘hits’ for Okupata Caves – and I know from personal experience there isn’t a lot of information about the caves anywhere, least of all a map. Understandably people have a healthy respect for dark holes in the ground, and the daunting idea of being lost underground isn’t all that appealing, so the lack of information is disappointing as it can be quite a nice little family adventure to have.
The Okupata Caves are pretty safe (although I wouldn’t recommended them when the rivers are running high or if torrential rain has been forecast as a stream does run through them). The Turangi Information Centre used to have photocopied maps of the cave system (hopefully they still do), which gives the general layout, although it can be pretty hard to orient once underground, but it does give the nervous some semblance of control … so its a good idea to have one for your first time.
They cave system is fairly small and it’s hard to get lost, but there are plenty of tight places to squeeze through to have a bit of a caving adventure. Looking around, you might spot a cave weta or two, some glow worms, and if you explore long enough you might find the underground waterfall.
Your feet will get wet, but you don’t need any fancy gear, as long as everyone has a torch of some kind and you take plenty of spare batteries – just in case you do find yourself wandering in circles for a while – and if you do, the most important thing to remember is: DO NOT PANIC in front of the kids! I promise you will find your way out 🙂
Also: The camping spot at the end of the road out to Okupata is pretty awesome & isolated if you’re into that kind of thing. Nothing but a long-drop. Open fires okay – but please be sensible and look after our forests. For fresh water, there is a freezing river just a short walk away to drink from and frolic in.
The turnoff to Okupata is about 15km from National Park Village heading north toward Turangi on the left side of the road (there is a sign, but its not particularly large so keep your eyes open), and from there it’s about 11kms along a gravel road to the campsite. The beginning of the walk to the caves is maybe not quite a kilometre before you reach the campsite – it is well signposted on the side of the road with a little lay-by to park your car.
To read another intrepid traveler’s experience click here
Below is a photo of the cave information that you can get from the Turangi Information Centre: (by clicking on picture you can enlarge it enough to read it)