Topic: Caves - Te Kawau Pa

Topic type:





Te Kawau Pa is at the northern end of my Tongaporutu coastline project.  It is also a stand-alone site.  It has one major cave system.


The Te Kawau Pa cave is situated just north of Chameleon Rocks.  It is the only cave on this particular stretch of beach at Te Kawau Pa that I am documenting.  (There are caves further north, but I haven’t accessed them.)  The cave bisects a sizable promontory.  It has two entrances.  The south-western entrance is an ‘open door’ type entrance while the north-western entrance is characterized by a huge, high, open bowl that leads into the cave.  This bowl is the largest of all the caves that I am documenting on the Tongaporutu coastline.  By largest, I mean overall it is the largest.  It doesn’t have the highest open dome, but it has the largest overhang.  That is, it indents internally the furtherest, so in terms of true dome, it has the largest overall area.  The cave itself is a large open roomed cave with one blind corridor being carved out on its north-eastern wall.  This leads off from the south-western entrance.  Internally, that is, inside the cave proper, the cave is not particularly high, being roughly 20 feet from the floor to the roof.  Being inside is quite claustrophobic as you are acutely aware of the tons of material directly above and close to your head.


The lowest rock stratum is mudstone.  This starts at the large, north-western cave entrance at a height of around eight feet and lowers to around three feet leading around to the south-western side.  The cave proper, including its roof is primarily composed of sandstone.  Normally, the mudstone and sandstone rock stratas are interbedded closely together in alternating layers.  In some instances though the spacing can be quite large.  This is particularly well illustrated at the Keyhole.  The Keyhole is opposite and south of the Te Kawau Pa’s cave’s south-western entrance.







9.11.2003   PHO2008-388-389


This was my second visit to Te Kawau Pa, the first being on the 4th.  I likened the cave to a Room with a View, with the south-western ‘window’ offering the best view;  that of Chameleon Rocks, whereas the north-western window looked more out to sea.  (This view wasn’t photographed).  The cliff wall material appeared relatively smooth and solid.  At this time I did not photograph the cave’s external entrances.







8.3.2004   PHO2008-726- 735

Part of CLIFF SEQUENCING.  Both entrances are shown in this series of photographs.  A person is included in the image showing the north-western entrance to give scale.  The cave itself appears little changed.  Both external and internal views are shown.


PHO2008-726 leads towards the north-western entrance, while PHO2008-735 shows the south-western entrance.  Note that the north-western entrance is much larger than the south-western entrance.







12.1.2009   PHO2011-1543, 1547, 1549-1952


Part of CLIFF SEQUENCING.  The Te Kawau Pa cave is remarkably stable.  Like the 2004 cliff sequencing, I have recorded the two entrances, plus the internal structure.  I imagine that when the north-western cave dome eventually succumbs, the collapse will be catastrophic.


PHO2011-1543 and 1547 show the less dramatic south-western cave entrance.







28.2.2010   PHO2011-1780


Although I have concentrated on just the one (only) cave at Te Kawau Pa proper, I have included a photo of these caves on the beach immediately north of Te Kawau Pa.  This is because, though blind, they were quite substantial and are a distinct feature of northern Te Kawau Pa.  (This was the only time I accessed this part of Te Kawau Pa during the project).

Discuss This Topic

There are 0 comments in this discussion.

join this discussion