Clifden Caves

Imaging that the area you are now visiting is a shallow sea with abundant marine life and rocky shores. Over millions of years the sea retreats and land is force upwards along the alpine fault.

Limestone is revealed in a discontinuos belt extending 75km through Fiordland from Lake Hauroko in the south to lake Te Anau and the Murchison mountains in the north. The limestone is the product of hard shell remains and marine organisms compacting on the ocean floor.

Rain falls. It filters through soil an leaf litter picking up carbon dioxide to form a weak acid. The acidic solution seeps into cracks in the limestone base , dissolving the rock. More water flows in: the cracks widen to channels, the channels widens to to tunnels, a cave is created. Over time droplets of the acidic water builds up to form delicate cave decorations. A continual process of sculpture and creation occurs in thes underground passages.

Even before road access, early European travellers marked the clifden caves on their maps as a ‚must see‘ and visited this site to marvel at the limestone creations. Now it’s your turn.