How to Access the Site
Access to the site used to be on a fee paying basis as the rock formations were on leased land. However, the local council has now taken over the park and with the help of local volunteers access tracks within the Labyrinth Rocks park are being upgraded and visiting is now free.
Park your car at S40 51.024 E172 49.442 and make you way to gz by following the paths provided, there is no need to leave these and it is dangerous to do so.
Geology of the Site – How the Labyrinth Was Made
The Labyrinth Rocks are primarily made from limestone. Limestone is a sedimentary rock made by the accumulation and consolidation of the remains of shells, plankton, and other organisms that lived in the sea and on the sea floor.
The limestone you will see at gz originated in the Oligocene era some 30 million years ago. About 25 million years ago a mountain building episode lifted this land out of the sea and exposed it the effects of weather and erosion.
The Labyrinth is an excellent example of “Karst” limestone topography. Karst topography is characterised by subterranean limestone caverns, carved by groundwater. Karst landforms are generally the result of mildly acidic water acting on soluble bedrock such as limestone or dolostone. The carbonic acid that causes these features is formed as rain passes through the atmosphere picking up CO2, which dissolves in the water. Once the rain reaches the ground, it may pass through soil that may provide further CO2 to form a weak carbonic acid solution.
This mildly acidic water begins to dissolve the surface along with any fractures or bedding planes in the limestone bedrock. Over time, these fractures enlarge as the bedrock continues to dissolve. Openings in the rock increase in size, and an underground drainage system begins to develop, allowing more water to pass through the area, and accelerating the formation of underground karst features.
The small canyons you are now standing in at gz have been formed in exactly this way. In addition these canyons have been partially filled by silt deposits from a nearby flooding river creating the earth floor that allows us access between the weathered rock.
Recent History of the Site
Dave Whittaker, a geologist, mining engineer and world traveler originally from the UK, arrived in Golden Bay around 15 years ago. Soon after his arrival he discovered a unique two hectare outcrop of karst limestone rock just outside of Takaka. He subsequently leased this land from the council and proceeded to turn it into a magical wonderland for the education and enjoyment of locals and tourists alike. Around 3 km of maze-like pathways were created amidst the natural rock sculptures. Native trees and shrubs were planted to enhance the environment and a magical world of gnomes, fairies, trolls and the like evolved to surprise and delight all those who ventured within. The Labyrinth Rocks Park became an iconic attraction in Golden Bay and Dave became lovingly known as "The Keeper of the Rocks".
In 2005 Dave was diagnosed with terminal cancer and, as he was unable to interest the local council in taking over the maintenance of the limestone park, he decided to close his attraction down. Dave died in 2006 and the park soon became overgrown. Over the last two years, volunteers have worked to clear the drainage ditches and pathways and have also re-installed some of the special creatures that live among the rocks. On the 23rd of December 2009 the park was re-opened again to the public as a council reserve.
In order to log this Earth Cache as found you must do the following:
1. Measure the size (width and height) of the hole in the rock formation at gz. The feature is a natural rock picture frame so should be easy to spot even if gps conditions are a little poor, optionally you could use the frame to take a picture of yourself and post it with your log. If you aren't into taking photos just email us the measurements taken. Note: This is not the rock formation shown below, please do not post and photos in your logs of the rock formation pictured below.
2. Along the path on the way to gz you will pass by the rock formations pictured above. You need to measure the height of these formations and describe in your own words how you think they were formed. Also take a gps reading at this point and send it to us. Please email us this information do not post it with your log.
3. Research the origins of the word “Karst” and email us the answer.
Email your answers to us, we will respond promptly, please do not log your find until we confirm your answers are correct.
For more information on Earth Caches go to http://www.earthcache.org