Report - Hong Kong Drains. (or How i learned to fear massive staircases) Earlier this Year, 2016

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I Go Where The Drains Are
Regular User
Oct 15, 2008
Slghtly backdated report...
I had a look at seven systems in HK, three on the Island, two in Mong Kok and two at Shek Pik on Lantau Island.

Of the six days i was there, we only got three days to explore them as monsoon season started on the fourth day... (no bothers cos we had the mad pleasure of catching @drhowser n seeing the blistering amazeballs that was 16 of his hard fought HK rooftops) but as such, i didnt fully explore any of the drains, as when i encountered high tides and many impassable waterfalls, i didnt get a chance to go back. We spent the second three days doing skyscraper rooftops with the MD.

Creeks in HK are known as 'Nullahs'. Realising this made finding 'em very easy. We started with Tai Hang Nullah. Due to the ever present 60-70% of rain and given YOU DIE if it does rain, i took only a fraction of the photos i wanted of each tunnel.

Tai Hang Nullah's infall was a huge dam structure that diverted most of its upstream flow into the west HK Drainage Tunnel, a massive COTS/NSST structure (which @drhowser has since finely detailed on this site), but for torrential rain rather than sewage. Getting to the infall involved climbing a massive staircase down to twin 8ft rcps grilled off, but with just enough room to squeeze around. Just inside was another staircase then a larger stone and concrete arch.

Looking up at the infall. The other RCP is to the right, out of shot.

There was then a short section of steep RCP, then more arch with a side tunnel containing a long staircase that eventually became a steep slide.


The arch carried on...

Before going down an old limestone block staircase, parts of which had disintegrated.


From here the tunnel ran as an RCP for a while, becoming a covered concrete channel, then a mix of split and single concrete box sections to the harbour. This was the only tunnel i saw the outfall of, as the tide was coming in.

Next was Wong Nai Chung Nullah, which we had to climb a four storey ladder to get down into. A steep arched tunnel was the go for about a kilometre, before we hit a long 30 stepped RCP then a very tidal n terdy covered stone channel. We only explored a third of this, one of HK's longer drains.



A brief respite from sloping floors was this weir. Behind where im standing is a huge grilled pit, with a channel to my right allowing normal flow to bypass it.

Tsak Yue Chung Nullah, otherwise known as 'Hong Schlong' was the biggest, with a staircase infall then 6 more like this one.

It then became a covered channel.

Then we met the high tide, with what appeared to be an even larger arched tunnel ahead. And that was the first day over.

Next day i set out by myself to try Flower Market Nullah, Monk Kok Nullah and Tonkin Street Nullah.

To my knowledge, Mong Kok and Flower Market have separate infalls, but join about 2kms downstream. The infalls were literally side by side, yet Mong Koks was heavily fenced and had CCTV... neither of which was a real issue, however the gaggle of water workers there prevented me accessing it that day. Flower Market aka 'Glowing Eyes', started with a long staircase.


It was then a mix of different box concrete tunnels and stone channels, with about 5 or 6 staircases.


Two kilometres down however i reached an impasse... The Cheesegrater. This large grille, made of steel as thick as railway track could be climbed through, but on the other side was a 10ft high drop with no ladder. Ahead of this, the tunnel was large, easily 15ft tall and passing as a T-Junction. I took the right side to feed in from Mong Kok Nullah, the left carrying on d/s. Being by myself i wasnt willing to risk finding myself stuck if the other tunnel had impassable waterfalls, so i turned back. I refer to it as 'Glowing Eyes' as it was *crawling* with large Huntsman spiders and their eyes glinted in the tunnel, reflecting my torch the entire way.

Shitty photos of The Cheesegrater and the T-Junction.


Next up was the Tonkin Street Nullah, which i anticipated being massive... Upon arriving at its infall i realised i had a slight problem... A staircase of 10 x 6-5ft high waterfalls. I had to throw boulders down it to ensure id be able to haul myself back up a few of them before descending. Ten steps down they got smaller and the tunnel snaked around a few bends. I felt less anxious about the potential rain and huge steps, until i rounded a bend to find 10ft high steps ahead. With 'ner a ladder in sight, i took a pic, then scampered back up. It then took me ten minutes to haul myself up the massive infall steps.

Looking up at the infall. 5ft high at the bottom, 6ft high near the top.

Round one bend.

Round another.

Annnd fuck this, im outta here... Looking down the 10fters...

I scouted lids but they were all massive and in the heart of Kowloon, so i called it on Tonkin.

On the third day, Snappel and i trekked out to Lantau Island to do the Shek Pik Reservoir Feeder tunnels. WHICH WERE VERY QUIETLY FEATURED ON THIS SITE A FEW YEARS BACK FOR THOSE OF YOU EAGLE EYED. We walked 8kms return thru Shek Pik '66, reaching its mid point side infall, then heading back. It was rad being able to drink the tunnels water. So cold and clean.


Steamy Blasted Black Granite. Lots of bats too.

Wispy White Limestone.

Side infall. Found about 10 large frogs in this.


And the famous roof infall.

We declined going further as we were 4kms in, had that to traverse back, then a 6km hike back to get our bus, but i briefly went up Shek Pik '63, only to find a mad big junction about 500m in.


The next day it bucketed rain and we cracked heads with Doogie, getting high AF above HK's city streets.
Hong Kong is a BULLSHIT rad city. Proper world Metropolis in ways London n New York can try, yet will fail to emulate. Def one of my faves.
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28DL Regular User
Regular User
Dec 1, 2013
Brilliant, not seen any Hong Kong drains before, will have to take a peek through Monsieur Howser's back catalogue now ;)


Bespectacled & irrelevant
Regular User
Dec 11, 2008
North Yorkshire
There really is something about tide marks higher than your head that focuses the attention, isn't there..

Can you imagine those 10ft steps at capacity!
Likes: Adders


28" Member
Regular User
May 29, 2011
Fantastic stuff! The rate at which some of those drop is frightening, wonder how far beneath the ground they are?


28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
Mar 10, 2016
Corr, I am liking this report and piccies, but much like swimming in a tank on a live sewage works, I would not want to be caught down one of these drains in Hong Kong if there is even the remotest chance of rain, there was a black rainstorm just a few days back which made the roads look like rivers, can only imagine what it must have been like underneath! I suppose it depends on time of year and checking the weather though, late summer/autumn is typhoon season. Huge systems, impressive photos!!
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I Go Where The Drains Are
Regular User
Oct 15, 2008
TBF, the drains there are notable as being very much the work of the British Colonials...
(Not to sound anti-Chinese)

A lot of them were easy to find simply because they all had Stone Channel sections dating from the 1930's that were all capped in 2002, a result of a scheme to remove the smell of sewage and tidal waters from the streets of HK and Mongkok. Prior to 2002, all of these systems, save those on Lantau Isle (Colonial Water Supply) wouldve been 'incomplete' as tunnels, with various sections open to the sky.