Earlier this year, I received an email saying that the Auckland branch of the GeoClub had organised a trip down into the depths of the Earth. Specifically, into one of the longest lava tubes underneath Auckland, Wiri Lava Cave. Not many people get to go down there, and they had secured permits and an iwi blessing to enter the cave–it is locked with a metal grate at the entrance and, until very recently, no one had gotten permission to enter it since 1998!
The GeoClub folks (led by Bruce Hayward, whom I consider the Godfather of all things Auckland Volcanic Field) also arranged for a cave expert, Peter Crossley, to guide us around. These opportunities for adventure are just one of the perks of the job. I’m happy to get to share them here!
Just as an aside, there are lava tubes all over Auckland. Check out how they form:
I excitedly gathered a group of keen volcanologists from Auckland Uni to go. But first, of course, we had to learn some specifics about what we were seeing. Bruce explained how the cave entrance and lava tube we were about to travel through was once covered by a large scoria cone. The cave is still surrounded by scoria. Unfortunately pictures of the original cone do not exist; by the time they took any pictures of it in the 1940’s, parts of it had already been quarried away. The quarry is still there (not pictured).
There are a lot of lava tubes in Auckland that are publicly accessible, though not as extensive as this one. Rangitoto, for example, has a few if you are brave and prepared enough to explore them while you are over there!
It was a really great day exploring this hidden geological wonder right here in our backyard. I just want to thank the Auckland GeoClub once again for arranging this truly exciting, one-of-a-kind outing. Happy lava-tube exploring!