Earnscleugh Cave

Central Otago District

Cave bones and Moa's

This is a hard to get to, not much really here, well, aside from a pretty awesome historic cave that they found lots of Moa bones in. So a few words of warning come along with this; there is no trail, no markers, no water, it's on private land and most of the bushes around here are spiky. This cave is hard to find, in fact it was lost for over 100 years. If you plan to go here, be prepared, it is a barren land of rocks and exposed ridges. Take water and some snacks, a map or GPS and if you plan to enter the cave, take a buddy with ya.


The best place to start this adventure is parking up at Conroys Dam, off of Conroys Rd, Off of highway 8 near Butchers Dam. You will then want to enter the Aldinga Conservation Area and walk up the Conroys Loop Track. When you pass over the service road for the transmission lines, follow this up till it exits the conservation area. This is where private land starts, the Earnscleugh Station. From here walk up to the spot I have placed on the GPS, have a look around and good luck. The cave entrances are just holes in the ground surrounded by bracken, they don't look like much, and you will probably walk passed them a few times.

Helpful links

Other adventures in close proximity

Museum worthy

Earnscleugh cave was discovered by the son of a gold miner in 1870. The father and son found some moa bones in the cave, these bones now are held by the Otago Museum. The cave was then inspected by a number of people, who found more bones. All sorts of bones, from Giant Moa, extinct goose, extinct ducks, weka and tuatara. In 1871 it was claimed that evidence of prehistoric Maori stone tool-making near the cave was found.

The cave is made up of two sections with a total of 3 entrances, the top section has two entrances and sits at 90 degrees to the lower section. If you went all the way from the top entrance and out the bottom entrance, the cave would be over 20 meters long.

After the first few years of inspecting everything in the cave, it's exact location was lost in time. No one wrote it down on a map basically. 100 years had passed, it was only in 1993 that someone finally located it again and marked it on a map. When I finally tracked it down with a couple of hints of where it could be, it had rotting sheep carcasses in the entrance, and I was by myself, so I ended up not entering the cave on this trip. But I will be back.

Till next time Cave - Stu