Cave Creek disaster 1995

Where can I find information about the Cave Creek disaster in 1995?

Junior Secondary

(Years 7-10)

Colour photo of the Kotihotiho (Cave Creek) memorial in Paparoa National Park. The memorial has a Sunflower laid on it.

Image: Cave Creek Memorial Track MRD 20 by Mike Dickison on Wikimedia Commons.

Entry last updated: 22/07/22


Cave Creek is in Paparoa National Park on the West Coast of the South Island. On 28 April 1995, disaster struck when the viewing platform suspended high above Cave Creek collapsed. 13 Tai Poutini Polytechnic students and a Department of Conservation (DOC) worker, who were standing on the platform, were killed. Immediately after the disaster, questions were raised about the safety and construction of the viewing platform.

General websites

There are some New Zealand websites with useful facts and information about the Cave Creek disaster.

NZ History

This is a great website for information about the history of New Zealand Aotearoa. If we go all the way down the page we can see that the website belongs to the Ministry for Culture & Heritage, so the information is well-researched and reliable.

  • Enter search words 'Cave Creek' into the search bar.

  • Read the article 14 die at Cave Creek.

  • Remember to explore other links at the end of the page that lead to other websites with related information on this topic.

Tips: Search words, or keywords, are the most important words in our question. Usually it’s better to leave out small words like ‘the’, ‘a’ and ‘of’ and just choose the main ones, eg Cave Creek. We can always change our keywords or add more if we need to.

Christchurch City Libraries

This public library website has a list that covers significant New Zealand disasters, including the Cave Creek disaster.

  • Select the Learning tab at the top of the homepage.

  • Choose Homework resources for kids from the drop-down menu.

  • Look down the page for New Zealand Disasters.

  • Cave Creek is found under Buildings and structures.

Department of Conservation (DOC)

The Department of Conservation (DOC for short) is the government website about preserving the natural and historical sites of New Zealand.

  • Keywords like 'Cave Creek' will bring up lots of results.

  • Select Cave Creek: DOC archive issue to find the Commission of Inquiry Cave Creek Report.

  • Also find Ten years on a report on major changes that were made to safety standards for outdoor recreational facilities throughout New Zealand.

West Coast Recollect

This is an interesting Local History website.

  • Search for 'Cave Creek Disaster' to find a few photographs.

  • Use the Filter to refine your search.

Tips: This is a Local History website put together by West Coast local people. Although there are no citations to acknowledge accuracy, much of the information appears to have come from genuine interest and involvement. Therefore, it may have personal opinions.

Newspapers, magazines and documentaries

There are also sites that have newspaper and magazine articles, and a documentary about Cave Creek. Some of these are from the time of the disaster (primary sources) and others have been written or made since.

Australia/New Zealand Reference Centre Plus

This is one of the EPIC resources, a collection of reliable databases covering lots of different topics. This database is a great resource for newspaper and magazine articles from New Zealand and Australia.

  • Search for 'Cave Creek' using the search box.

  • Choose the Full Text option from the side of the search results to see articles you can read online.

  • Under Limit To you can change the Publication Date. For example, from 1995 to 1995, will only bring up articles from the year of the tragedy.

Tips: To use the EPIC resources you will need a login and password from your school librarian or you can login to AnyQuestions between 1pm and 6pm Monday to Friday and one of our librarians will help you online.


This is a great website for finding out about events and opinions in New Zealand, including formal statements like press releases from the government and other organisations.

  • A search for 'Cave Creek' will bring up a variety of results.

  • Use the options on the side to limit the results by type or organisation.

  • Read articles such as Remembering The Cave Creek Tragedy.

Tips: Websites that have .com or .co in the address can have good information, but you need to assess how reliable it is. Check the About us link on the website, if you can find one. That can tell you what the company’s mission and values are.


DigitalNZ is a search site that focuses on New Zealand history and brings together results from lots of different websites such as New Zealand libraries, museums, universities and government sites all at once.

Tips: Websites that have .org or .net in the address can have good information, but you need to assess how reliable it is. Check the About us link on the website, if you can find one. That can tell you what the organisation’s mission and values are.


There are few books written on the Cave Creek disaster. Check your local school or public library to see if they have these titles:

SCIS no: 1836094

Topics covered

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