Exploring in the dark is super exciting for children, and not only is it super exciting it’s also really good for their sensory development. So be open to adventures which take children into the dark or outside at night time.
Alex and his cousin Meeka were so excited when we told them we were going to be visiting a cave this past weekend. They quickly rushed off to find their headlamps they were given for Christmas and proceeded to explain to each other what they were going to be doing. The cave is a historic 200-metre limestone tunnel that was used as a water race for Mt Vernon station near Waipukurau. The race starts near the river and has been dug right through the hill, where it then would have connected with water channels. There was a number of these across Central Hawkes Bay, with a larger more well known one near Onga Onga which my great, great grandfather helped build. You can still see these raceways next to the country roads around Onga Onga.
Growing up in Central Hawkes Bay and attending the local high school I can’t ever remember hearing about the Lindsay Tunnel, so this weekend was my first time visiting.
Getting there can be a bit confusing, so please bear with me while I write the instructions.
Lindsay Road is off State Highway 2 just before Waipukurau (north of the bridge). Drive along Lindsay road and then turn into Scenic road which takes you to Lindsay Bush. Instead of going into the bush car park continue driving along the stopbank until you get to the end. We parked on the stopbank, but you can drive down into the small turn around area at the bottom of the stopbank.
From here walk along the river heading west, there is a bit of a track, you will need to go around a makeshift fence and then keep walking until you see a gap between the blackberry. Walk up the hill to you reach the track then continue on walking West along the track until you find the tunnel. We found this the easiest way to get through without having to climb fences or scramble through Blackberry.
The height of the tunnel would be roughly 1.5 metres at the entrance gradually getting smaller and the far end would be roughly 1 metre. Because we had not been there before we were not sure how small the entrance way at the other side would be, we had been told that we would need to scramble out the other side.
The thought of this, mixed with me talking about previous caving experiences brought on a bit of a panic attack and I freaked out 3/4 of the way through when the tunnel started to enclose. Thankfully Grandma and Aunty Jeanie continued on with the kids telling them a story that I was too tall and kept hitting my head, while I practically ran all the way back to the entrance, gasping for air in a dramatic fashion as I found the outside.
(I have been caving in the past, through something they referred to as the birth canal and there was no way I was ever going to be doing something like that again). As you can see from the photos below it isn’t as bad as that. I most likely could have gone right through the tunnel, maybe next time.
Everyone else made it safely to the other side. The kids all wanted to come back through the tunnel, so safe to say it must not have been too scary for them and they enjoyed using their head torches.
Next time you are in Central Hawkes Bay this is a really cool off the track place to visit, and if you want a longer walk the Lindsay Bush is just down the road and has a 45-minute loop track. Next time we are down we hope to have time to walk around this track and I can let you know more about it.
** Photos by Jeanie Butler **