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Gaby and I took a road trip this weekend, 25 March, 2006, north from Christchurch along Highway 1, to a town called Kaikoura, located on a small peninsula. About 5km south of Kaikoura, right beside Highway 1, is a tourist cave called The Moari Leap Cave. I wanted to make a short side trip to see the cave. It turns out that in the 1950’s some folks set up a small mining operation within the Kaikoura Limestone to use the limestone for soil amendment. In 1958, after mucking material from the latest blast, a hole was discovered in the bottom of the quarry. The miners were intrigued by the hole and soon asked a couple of geologists to come out and explore it. It turns out that the miners had quarried an opening into a fossil sea cave within the bluff, which had no known openings. The cave is a sea cave, as is evidenced by its location within the bluff above the current coastline, and the well rounded pebbles located on the cave floor. Subsequent to the formation and uplift of the sea cave, pretties have formed within. Most of the decorations have a slight orange cast to them, which sets them off from the cave walls nicely. The vertical entrance was deemed a wee bit difficult for tours, and a lower entrance to the cave was later dug. The cave opened as a small commercial cave in 1962, and guided toors have been available ever since. Why, do you ask, is the cave known as The Moari Leap Cave? It seems that long ago there was a local Maori Chief that was attacked by a fierce warring party and escaped by leaping down the cliff. Anyway, the tour guide said it sounded better than “Limestone Quarry Cave.”

The cave is located in the bluff on the left, an old wave cut terrace now uplifted.

The limestone quarry. The original entrance is gated up and is at the back of the bottom of the quarry.

The lower, more accessible entrance dug open later.

Gaby at the entrance.

Our brave tour guide and small tour group.

The point of original discovery, seen from below. Appearently, before this entrance was gated, a cow was found inside the cave. It had fallen into the cave, and landed on the talus pile below unhurt!

The back of the cave.