Paparoa National Park

Photos and text by Jonathan Carr

The Paparoa National Park offers some of the most beautiful and most accessible bush in the country. A rugged coastline of cliffs and blow holes (including the well-known Pancake rocks at Dolomite point) guard an inland Karst landscape. The dense rain forest which covers much of the limestone cap dramatically changes to lowland beech forest at the edge of a syncline a few kilometres inland. From here the Park climbs rapidly up to the jaggered granite peaks of the Paparoa range (1500m). The range runs north-south, parallel with the coast. Many of the peaks are named after scientists, Rutherford, Faraday, Copernicus.. etc. Interesting granite tors emerge from the bush along the tops. However, a traverse of the Paparoa range is difficult. It is no coincidence that the scenery on the northern tops resembles that of Fiordland, 600km to the South. This is the same rock which has been displaced by movement along the Alpine fault which runs the length of the Southern Alps. It is likely that these peaks were those referred to by Abel Tasman when he became the first European to discover New Zealand... `a land high up-lifted'.

Features of the Paparoas include endemic plants, a large number of caves and a rare Peterel colony on the Barrytown flats (currently threatened by mining). From the tramping point of view, the inland pack track offers value for effort: an easy walk (when the river levels are low) passes through groves of Nikau palms up spectacular limestone canyons. The Ballroom overhang is a huge over-hanging terrace 2hrs walk up the Fox river - the site of recent CUTC formal balls. There are numerous caves, resurgences and submergences scattered along the way. Don't fall down a tomo shaft! - its easy to do if you leave the track. A track up Mt Bovis gives access from Bullock creek farm (on the Inland Pack Track) to the tops. Further south, the Croesus track crosses the Paparoa range near the Barrytown flats. In the north the granite tops can be accessed near the Buckland peaks - the rocky tors look their best on a misty day.

Kayaking on the Paroari river is yet another activity....

The Fox river (42k)Metro Cave entrance (21k)
Sink hole (42k)The Moa caves (15k)
Typical cave passage (33k)Cave Weta (25k)
Dusk on the Paparoa coastline (40k)Fox river caves (30k)


  • My Cave page - Caving in England with the CUCC

  • Elwyn Smith's cave photos of Harwood's Hole, Xanadu and Starlight Caves (Takaka and the Paparoa's) on this site!

  • Sherry Mayo's general caving page - links to all sorts of caving pages + cool pictures (incl. NZ)

  • My Mt Owen web page - another awesome limestone region with some big cave systems

    Tramping overview | Mt Owen limestone area | Jonathan's gallery
    Copyright (c) 1996 Jonathan Carr