I recently took a walk to the Fox River caves with it's impressive limestone features

You’ll cross the Fox River three times so wear good sandals instead of hiking boots. Fox River Caves are very interesting and a great walk up the river to get there.

Quick Facts about this walk

  • Location: 11.6 km north of Punakaiki, West Coast, South Island
  • Distance: 5 kms
  • Time needed: 3 hour return trip
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Wheelchair Access: No
  • Route: Double back
  • Elevation: 157m
  • Wet Feet: Yes, several river crossings
  • Toilets: No
  • Dogs: No
  • Mobile Coverage: No

Summary points about this walk

Points of interest along the walk​

Fox River Car Park

From Westport drive 50 km south to Fox River, don’t drive over the Fox River bridge. Then turn left into the car park.

If you walk across the new Fox River bridge you can walk through the tunnel that leads off from the old Fox River bridge.

Point 2: Turn off

The track was easy to find, just walk to the end of the car park you will not miss it.

The first few minutes look really good till you walk right into the Fox River. So much for dry feet, don’t even try to sneak across this one.

You must cross the Fox River twice before arriving at the cave turn-off. On all the river crossings the stones are small and easy to walk on plus the water is no higher than the top of your boots.

We crossed over onto a small river island and then back onto the river banks a couple of times before reaching the Fox River Cave turn-off.

Arriving at the caves

The track to the cave is a little more challenging. The track was made up of rocks from the cliff faces so they were rather large and in places covered in green moss and extremely slippery so take it easy.

Halfway along this track, we had a feeling we were being followed. When I turned around there was a tame little grey Weka walking behind us picking up his free lunch. We were looking for him on the way back, he must have got a better offer.

The Fox River Cave is just wide enough for one person and you have to keep your head down. You can walk in about 20m before you have to squeeze through small gaps and in doing so you will get very dirty.

It was disappointing to see people leaving muddy hand prints on the walls etc, but most of all the people breaking off pieces of stalagmite and stalactites to take home. Please don’t do this when you visit.

One more thing to mention, watch out for the stinging nettle just before the cave entrance, it’s an old plant and packs a painful punch.

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