The original Underworld Adventurers

Our Story

Underworld Adventures was established in 1989 as “Norwest Adventures”, with reference to the dramatic and rugged Northwest region of New Zealand’s South Island, where the Founders spent their spare time exploring. Geoff Schurr, brother-in-law Stuart Berendt, close friend (and fellow caver) Ray Moroney and Stu’s father George Berendt were keen West Coast cavers and educationalists, inspired by their teaching and cave & karst exploration.

With a sense of adventure, passion, a van, a few wetsuits and family support they began one of the earliest adventure companies in New Zealand – albeit while they continued with their teaching day jobs. Seeking to offer “novices” an opportunity to gain a glimpse into the secret world that they had experienced in their explorations, they crafted four distinctly different cave & karst experiences in both the Metro / Te Ananui and Te Tahi Cave Systems. Since the early 90’s, Geoff, Stu and Ray, along with a team of passionate staff, have been responsible for guiding, developing and improving the company. The Company has emerged from a small struggling entity that hosted 5 visitors in its first year to one that now hosts around 10,000 visitors each year. It has become an internationally acclaimed draw-card for visitors to our spectacular West Coast “Untamed  Natural Wilderness”

Now many years later, with many guides, managers, office staff, and maintenance staff in the field, the vision driving the company’s success and that that motivates the staff, remains as the founders first envisioned; “to share safely with visitors, our passion and knowledge of the spectacular fragile hidden wilderness of the truly unique West Coast Cave and Karst, and in doing this, protect the place and create an unforgettable, fun and educational cave experience”.

Today we invite you to explore with us, this hidden wonderland, sculptured in rock, created by forces of nature and beautifully and decorated with calcite crystals and water filled passages inhabited by millions of surreal twinkling glowworms.

General Manager (and founding Director Geoff’s son) Aidan Schurr now continues the family tradition, and says, “It’s such a privilege to be able to bring visitors into this incredible environment. So many show caves have been heavily modified with boardwalks, concrete paths and handrails prevailing. But we’re so lucky to help people experience what true caving feels like – natural, spectacular and real. We’re proud to be custodians of Te Ananui, and every trip I take underground feels just as special as the first.”

In providing a safe well-managed access to this land below – the precious cave system within the Paparoa National Park – we gift visitors a glimpse, an understanding and an experience of the beauty and excitement of this subterranean world. We do this by minimising impacts and telling stories that reinforce the importance of respect, protection and conservation of these mysterious and environmentally sensitive ecosystems.

We are inspired to “become one of New Zealand’s leading Adventure Tourism Operators by enabling guided, transformative, fun-filled journeys in to unique and natural wilderness environments. In doing this we will educate our visitors while maintaining their safety and the integrity of the special environment in which they are a visitor. In balancing these three elements we will enrich the life of our visitors while ensuring that the host environment is maintained.

Our guiding team brings these journeys to life by interpreting and leaving the unique wilderness environments as close as is possible to how they were first discovered. In the spirit of the early cave explorers, we ensure that the environment is interpreted with a minimum of infrastructure in small self-contained groups accompanied by knowledgeable and passionate guides.  By sharing stories we wish to inspire our visitors to obtain an appreciation, respect and value of the fragile underground wonderland that it has been our privilege to enter. Our training, guides, H&S systems, and infrastructure have been established to ensure the safety and integrity of you the staff and the environment.

We are guided in this effort by our five core values;

  • Creation: enabling extraordinary journeys of revelation, renewal and transformation
  • Protection: preservation of the very special place that we share
  • Safety: ensuring safe access, to what is for most, an inaccessible place
  • Value: valuing and engaging staff to achieve our vision
  • Respect: Respect for the place, the people and the host environment.

Our Company and our journeys align with New Zealand’s “Tourism Sustainability Commitment” and the TIAKI Promise, where we proudly support our close relationship with the Department of Conservation and other stakeholders. To assist with this Underworld Adventures” is affiliated with TIANZ, NZSS , ACKMA and operates under a Department of Conservation Concession.

We are excited to share with you a voyage of discovery into a place that is seldom visited; a land beyond, deep below, silent, timeless, ancient, dark and breathtakingly beautiful.