by Sandra Smith

A great attraction in the South Wairarapa

I know a place where soft green ferns grow…. and it’s tucked away in the Patuna Chasm. You are going to have to wait until October if you want to visit, but it is worth the wait. The reason for this is that the Chasm is only open during the summer months owing to the fact that you are wading in the stream for its entirety. But don’t be put off! The stream is actually the Ruakokopatuna River so you could spend the time waiting on how to pronounce this. 🙂

The Walk is run by Patuna Farm Adventures, and they will transport you across the farmland to the beginning of the walk and pick you up afterwards. The mode of transport is indicative of the adventure to come — it’s a quintessential farm trailer attached to the farm vehicle with long plank seats bolted to the sides and you have to kind of hold onto your neighbour for support. All good for a laugh as you rumble across the farmland to the start point.

Here you begin walking through low bush and typical New Zealand forest and limestone formations. Then it’s time to drop down into the chasm.

Dropping into the chasm

Well, you actually climb down a 10-metre ladder and then you are in the water up to your knees or thighs depending on how much rain there has been. Upstream there is a beautiful moss covered waterfall — a photographers dream — and then turning back downstream into the chasm of limestone walls, vibrant dripping moss, stunning ferns and fossil rich caverns the experience is breathtaking.

You will be walking in the water the whole way — along with the inquisitive eels — and your camera will not be able to keep up the pace!

The rocks can be a bit slippery, so good footwear is essential.

When you reach the end you have the choice of walking out on the track — after hauling yourself out of the chasm via the steel rope — or carrying on a bit further and getting really wet. In other words, you may have to swim a little way as it gets a bit deeper.

Either way, the farmer is there at the allotted time to take you back to your vehicle.

Watch the video

Here is a link to a beautiful little video filmed by Mathew Smith, which captures the essence of this fascinating place  – Patuna Chasm.

So if you are able, make a note to add this to your ‘things to do’ coming up this summer. I’m sure you will not regret it.

The Chasm is in the South Wairarapa area just out from Martinborough that happens to be a fabulous little town in which to stay. You can’t go wrong!