Within half an hour of Grasmere Lodge, you will find Cave Stream Scenic Reserve, and Kura Tâwhiti or Castle Hill Scenic Reserve. Both are amongst unique limestone rock formations in the Castle Hill basin – a low depression bounded by faultlines along the Craigieburn and Torlesse mountain ranges. The name Castle Hill comes from the castle-like forms of the prominent limestone outcrops.
At Cave Stream, a 362-metre long cave is the main feature, set in a typical karst (limestone) landscape of solution holes, water-grooved rocks and sculptured rock formations. Visitors can enter the cave and follow the stream for about an hour to the outlet. This should not be done without flashlights and at least two people, and you will get wet – if it’s higher than waist-deep, don’t go in. We would advise you to contact us to arrange a reliable, experienced guide if you want to do this trip.
Kura Tâwhiti is firmly on the map as one of the best places in the country for bouldering, or rock climbing, but it’s also a lovely peaceful place for a more gentle walk.
The main South Island Maori tribe, Ngâi Tahu, holds this area in special significance, and their involvement is officially recognised by the government. In earlier days, tohunga (priests) and kaumatua (elders) brought the young people of the tribe here to learn their ancient traditions and look for food supplies in the summer.
Occasionally in the summer, the Department of Conservation offers guided tours of the area with interpretations of the historic, spiritual and cultural dimensions by a tribal representative.
Part of the reserve is fenced off to protect the unique ecosystem and its fragile biodiversity, but there is plenty of space to walk amongst the rock formations and enjoy views of the surrounding rolling farmland and mountains.