This is an ideal beginners, intermediate, and family trip on which a wide range of people congregate and relax.
From Picton it is some 320 km and 7 hours drive, via Nelson, to the camp at Sandhills Creek (Kowhai Creek). From Pakawau, 10km north of Collingwood in Golden Bay, it is a good one hours drive to the campsite.
As it is a long way from anywhere you have to be completely self sufficient. Camping is on a sheltered paddock with a stream and lagoon on one side (good for kayaking), beach nearby, long drop, or portaloo toilets. Bring a large water container (eg 20 litres) as water is from a nearby woolshed rainwater tank, or from some distance up the road. (Fill the container at Collingwood.)
There is a great range of caves down there, and SRT is not required although a handline is useful, so it is an excellent trip for beginner and intermediate cavers, while at the same time providing challenges for experienced cavers.
From Wellington it is recommended that travel there is commenced on the Thursday prior to Easter, and the return trip is made on the Tuesday after Easter.
There is a small camping charge to contribute to the portaloos.
In addition to the caving there are a number of other activities that can be done
- swimming in the river and sea
- kayaking up the river to Lake Otuhie, or in the Whanganui Inlet (Westhaven)
- walking and tramping
- 4WD to Kahurangi Point and Kahurangi Keepers house
- campfire and singing at night
- Knuckle Hill track
The last shops and fuel are at Collingwood. South Fuels Collingwood Petrol Station in Haven Road has a 24 hour card pay pump.
The Nugget Cafe at Mangarakau is definitely worth a stop when open.
Department of Conservation