For years we’d driven past a couple of ‘Waipu Caves’ signposts on State Highway 1 near Waipu, always meaning to stop but never quite making it. So that weekend we drove 12km up a side road to the caves. While the well-signposted road is sealed for most of the way, the last few kilometres are narrow, winding and gravel-surfaced. Cross the paddock from a decent-sized carpark complete with basic port-a-loo toilets, walk about two minutes along a dirt track and you’re there! Entering the cave requires a bit of a stoop, but it opens to a roomy cavern where it’s easy to see many stalactites and several stalagmites, including one that is said to be 8ft high and 6ft in diameter. The caves are in three sections, the third one containing ‘a galaxy’ of glow worms, but that section is recommended for experienced cavers only. Being winter, with a fair bit of water about and the recent Thai cave rescue incident firmly in mind, we didn’t even consider going that far, but the first cave is pretty impressive, easy to access and completely free of charge. We walked most of the adjacent 2km track, but it was slippery underfoot and we turned back near the top. It would be better to walk the track in summer, or even in spring when the native epiphyte orchids are in flower. It’s an area that’s well worth a visit though.