Waipu Caves Camping & Caving Expedition
Tuesday 2 to Saturday 8 October 2007

Expedition write-up by Ian.

The view straight up.

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"Speaking of 3L water bottles, when do you want to go caving?" And thus was started the planning for another trip, this time for four nights.


The full equipment checklist is on a separate page.

Alexander's larger tent made a big difference, since with an extra body to fit inside it and lots of luggage we were able to put a lot of our stuff in it and keep the car situation reasonably controlled.

I say reasonably because I lost the 220g gas canister for the lantern in the back of the car and only rediscovered it on the last day when we were packing the car for heading home. So the gas lantern went completely unused for the whole trip. One other problem with using it was that it was supposed to be able to fit onto the base of the new gas stove, but the stove appliance was screwed so tightly onto its base that it needed a spanner and some determined effort to get it off, and that was well after the trip.

The new stove (ignoring efforts to get it off its base) worked very well, heating water better than the old one even when they both had new gas cartridges. (Later testing indicates this is very gas pressure dependant – when the cylinders get low both stoves don't heat anywhere near as well.)

The solar shower is still missing its shower rose, so it's easy to use the water too fast (eh, Joel).

The frozen water didn't last quite as long in the chilly bin as I was expecting, even though I don't think the chilly bin was opened much more often. It's more likely because it was left in the car during the day. There are cooler spots we could have put it.


Setting off took a while. Water bottles had to be filled, and an awful lot of gear had to be stowed in the car. I had been very busy working the day before (and away down-country the week before) so I hadn't had enough time to prepare the stuff that needed to be taken. When I mentioned that the person in the front could navigate Joel decided not to sit in the front, and both boys ended up in the back. They packed stuff around them, and somehow we eventually got everything (or so I thought) into the car and we got started.

Our first stop was Onehunga to buy a polypropylene thermal top for Alexander. Since we were there anyway I decided Joel should have one too. He gets cold easily, so it would be good for him to have one that he could wear while not caving. (He wore it a lot on the trip, and has worn it a lot since, so it seems like a very good buy.)

Next was getting all our food. Of course we got more than we needed, but during the trip we managed very well for not opening packets unnecessarily, so our budget ended up not badly blown. A 2kg bag of apples ended up completely eaten, so at least we had some fruit in our diet besides canned pineapple (which it seems we all love).

Because I wasn't able to find any 190g butane gas canisters at home (I found them all after the trip), we had to stop on the way to buy a couple. Joel proved he is a good navigator by spotting the large hardware store from the motorway then guiding us to it in a sidestreet. I noticed that tent pegs there were close to half the price as at the local branch of the same outfit. We had a very late lunch in the carpark there as well, eating luncheon on cheese rolls, with an apple each, and a muffin bake for on the road again.

It was sunny when we arrived at the caves, and we found a couple of young English ladies who had managed to get their car well stuck next to the toilet block. They were throwing stones and branches under when we arrived, but it was much easier to just tie a rope to the front of their car and pull it out with my Forester.

Setting up camp.

We set up the tent without trouble, but the rain started shortly after, and the boys retired indoors to play cards while a large flock of sheep was driven past our site by humans on foot, on quad bikes, on horse, in a large 4WD, and several dogs. Great fun. I joined in when it looked like the sheep were taking to the hill instead of going where they were supposed to, but they still managed to get past me and back the way they had come.

It was soon time for dinner and because of the weather we wanted something simple, so sausages it was. We had to find a sheltered location behind some rocks to cook our sausages for dinner (replacing the first gas canister almost immediately) and we carried the table over to eat there as well.

In the evening it was still quite wet and there was a rather cold wind so we didn't have dessert but did watch a movie – The Ghost and the Darkness. I forgot to take my 3.5mm to tape deck audio adapter so the sound wasn't the best, and it meant that the inverter cooling fan, which kept changing speeds, was quite distracting in the boot. Because it was wet outside I put the inverter under the car and put a plastic bag over it (the inverter, not the whole car).

After watching the movie – which wasn't that scarey – no one wanted to get out of the car. Sadly while adjusting my glasses I managed to break the nose bridge, right at the point of a previous fix. Upon finding that I didn't have any duct tape in the car (fixes everything, so a bummer that I forgot it as well) and banging my head on the rear car door very painfully I was feeling rather down until Alexander remembered I keep a spare pair of glasses in one of the glove boxes. That cheered me up again.


On Wednesday morning we were getting ready for breakfast and Joel asked if the rather shallow bowls in the picnic set were the "bowliest" bowls available. Alexander has used them at least twice before so he told him that was the best we had. I'll put it on the shopping list for next time.

After breakfast we went into Waipu, charging the inverter on the way, and bought detergent, tomato sauce, etc, from the general store, then returned back to our camp site for lunch. While turning the car around to back it into our camp I got the car stuck in thick mud. I'd managed to pick the boggiest part of the field to turn around in. I unloaded the boys, the chilly bin, and a whole lot of water, making the car perhaps 120kg lighter, then tried again with a plank that Alexander had found. Driving out wasn't a problem.

The weather still wasn't very good, and the boys were once again playing cards when the next lot of sheep were driven past. It seems they were being mustered for docking, and I joined in once again, chasing sheep around the small hill between our tent and the toilet block. I grabbed a sheep that had ideas of escape but wasn't able to hold onto it in the wet. However a teenager with the farmers did a great tackle and it wasn't getting away from him. He jumped onto the back of a quad bike with the sheep still in his arms.

I started making a camp fire during the afternoon and eventually the boys surfaced to see what I was up to. I think they may have smelled smoke from my test burn. They decided to make their own further up the hill, using natural shelter from rocks, although the same rocks meant there was nowhere to sit down around it. That didn't worry them too much and they lit it while I built up my "proper" camp fire to use later that evening.

Eww, a bit smokey.

Alexander had a nap during the afternoon and Joel helped me cook tortellini pasta for dinner. The water didn't seem to ever boil, so I think the wind must have been cooling down the billy something chronic, and I think it took a little longer than it should have, but it was done eventually. We woke Alexander up, and had a dinner which we all agreed was very tasty.

It was a bit windy in the evening but reasonably dry so after dessert we had a camp fire and toasted a few marshmellows and jet planes. The smoke was a bit of a problem, though, and the wind kept changing direction and blowing smoke in our eyes, so we retired to bed earlier than may have been expected and read roughly the first half of The Man-eaters of Tsavo.


After breakfast we went wandering about on the hillside, climbing big rocks, looking into suspicious looking holes, and figuring how we would get around a big clump of gorse. After getting back it was Joel's turn to rest (he says he didn't sleep) while Alexander and I cooked the sausages and onion for lunch.

Because the weather had turned sunnier we had set out the solar shower in the morning and it was doing so well we decided to try it. Stringing up the shower was a perilous activity, with Joel slipping on a rock and landing on his coccyx. I don't know how I managed it but I managed to leave my shampoo behind again. I did have a proper cake of soap this time, though.

After a very filling dinner of bodged pasta spiral (not spaghetti) bolonaise we weren't thinking of dessert at all, we were that full. The boys were burning stuff over our mozzie candle so I told them to just go and light a proper camp fire. They didn't need much more encouragement, and I left them to it while I laboriously cleaned up the dishes after the bolognaise meal. I take my hat off to Andy who cleaned everything last time without any detergent. Meanwhile the boys finished off all the marshmallows and jet planes. Huh.

There's only so much Great Outdoors a guy can take before it has an affect. Roawrrr.

We read a bit of The Man-eaters of Tsavo but Alexander fell asleep twice so we didn't finish. I guess all that camp firing was tiring work. He kept an impressive fire going though.


The most important work of the morning was tweaking and modifying headlamps to work their best while in the cave. The soldering iron ran off the inverter quite well, and I didn't have to retreat inside the car to use it like last time.

This was followed by lunch, which was the frankfurters on long cheese rolls. It was widely regarded to be the best lunch of the expedition.

Still looking clean.

We were just starting into the cave when we decided that a beam on Joel's headlamp would work better than a "naked" (ie, wide beam) Cree, so we quickly added an optic then re-entered the cave. We were only in for 1 hour 45 minutes, but that was quite enough. One particular squeeze through which I did a lot of praying left me feeling very squeezed and that I had done quite enough for one day. (I have the bruises to show for it.) Shortly after I found myself hanging by my helmet, a move which also ripped a wire off my headlamp LED, leaving me in darkness. I had to continue with my backup hand held torch (also home made). We finished the caving trip by walking out the stream entrance in very cold chest-deep water.

Not so muddy – the water washed it off pretty well.

We cleaned up with another shower, and this time we figured out how to string up the shower so that it can easily be hauled up to a good height – we don't strain ourselves pulling it up there. Much easier than having to tension up the rope to get the extra height. Joel's shampoo managed to last the distance, and eventually we were all clean.

In the early evening we went into Waipu for a takeaway dinner (chips, wedges and pineapple fritters), and bought another bottle of milk for breakfast the next morning.

Later in the evening we watched another movie – Signs. Even with the extra trip into Waipu the inverter wasn't fully charged (thanks to the heavy use with the soldering iron I presume) so this time I plugged the inverter into the car and placed it outside the back of the car on the camp chair. Ian had some scroggin with even a few jet planes left but wasn't feeling hungry enough to eat much of it.

We finally finished The Man-eaters of Tsavo.


Woke up very late, and got up even later, and I think it was after 11am when we had breakfast. We had almost all of the 1L of milk we had bought the day before, and finished off the last of the three boxes of cereal.

In the early afternoon (because that's what time it was after we had finished breakfast and washed the dishes) we had a game of frisbee golf. The "holes" we played:

  1. Into the middle of the tyre (there was a big digger tyre in the middle of the field).
  2. Over the (narrow) orange post.
  3. Through the big concrete pipe in the creek bed, without touching it. Penalty shot for the frisbee contacting the concrete, replay shot.
  4. Into a hole behind a big rock (on the tree-covered hillside).
  5. Back across the creek, on top of a wide post.
  6. All the way down the field to touch the orange W walkway sign on the Waipu Caves sign. Penalty shot for landing in the water, next shot from the edge of the water.
  7. Across the field to hit the door of the adventure equipment hut. Final shot must be from standing in sunlight. If frisbee lands in shadow no penalty shot, but next shot from edge of shadow.

We had afternoon tea after Joel had done hole 6, leaving Alexander and me to do it after our break. That may have been a bad thing, as my game was abysmal. I went in the water twice and needed so many throws I completely lost my healthy lead and was sitting even with Alexander by the time I finally hit the orange W. Shooting across the field to the hut I looked like I was doing well but with my second to last shot, with which I could have equalled Alexander, I managed to hit the eve of the hut, meaning I came in one shot behind. A good game.

So in summary, we all had a great time camping and caving and none of us wanted to come home. I even raised the possibility of doing school lessons by correspondence on Monday when the new school term was due to start. Not really an option at such short notice. Ah well. We'll go again some time.   


  Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
Breakfast --

Coco pops with fruit salad

Muesli (Ian only)

Coco pops

Muesli (Ian only)

Coco pops (2nd box) with fruit salad

Muesli (Ian only)

Coco pops with pineapple pieces (very late)

Muesli (Ian only)

Morning tea --

Shapes crackers and apples

Lunch Cheese rolls and luncheon Cheese rolls, luncheon and tomato Sausages, fried onion, bread Long cheese rolls, frankfurters, tomato sauce --
Afternoon tea

Muffin bakes and apples


Sausages, bread

Sparkling duet

Tortellini pasta

Sparkling duet

Bolognaise (with tomato sauce and onion) and pasta spirals

Sparkling duet

Chips or wedges, pineapple fritters

Sparkling duet


Can't find the sparkling duet!

Dessert -- Choc mousse, pineapple slices -- -- Choc mousse, pineapple rings
Supper Movie – scroggin Camp fire – marshmallows, choc wheatens, jet planes Camp fire – marshmallows, choc wheatens, jet planes Movie – scroggin (Ian only) --


Also not so muddy – the water washed it off pretty well. (Nice cleaning job, Joel.)


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