Adventure Caving

Waitomo Travel Blog

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The test-your-suitability dry run in the museum
The next big thing to tick off was to visit the underground caves at Waitomo, in the west of the northern island, in King Country. The star of the show is the glowworms that hang on the ceiling of the caves, emitting a neon light, looking almost like the stars in the sky. If you're really adventurous, like we thought we were, you can do adventure caving, which involved a day down the caves, which I will tell you a little about.

There are several different tour operators running in the small village of Waitomo, each offering something slightly different - ranging from the extreme rafting and caving adventures to a stay-dry-and-see-the wonder-of-the-cave-type scenarios also offered.
The "team"
Our day was with The Legendary Black Water Rafting Company. If, like me, this throws up images of white water rafting in the dark, then you, like me, thought wrong. It's a lot less intense, the rafting side of it, but the day on a whole was still pretty full-on.

Before we met at the base, we checked out the Waitomo Caves Museum to get some history on the caves and learn about these strange neon creatures. They are not actually worms, you know, but maggots in lavae state, using their neon beam to attract their prey - flies etc - and then devour them, much like a spider. In fact, the worms themselves actually look pretty gross.

From the base we were driven to the hill with the deep hole we were to abseil into and cave and raft. We were given some training on how to abseil, which all seemed easy enough.
What was I thinking doing this?!
When it actually came to abseiling, we had to squeeze down a tiny hole that I'm sure was made a lot harder by all those steaks I ate in Argentina. Holding it all in, you descended about 30 metres to the bottom, where it was dark and very cold. Then we stopped for a nice cup of tea - yes, in the cave - before equipping ourselves with our rubber rings and jumping off a ledge into the cold water below. A relaxing - well, as relaxing as it could be in such freezing waters - voyage down the caves ensued, with our head torches turned off for maximum effect from the glowworms. Then just before we abandoned the rubber rings, I heard a "pop, tsssss" sound. Someone's ring had a puncture. Gutted for them.

Then we were faced with a ledge that couldn't be walked across, so, with our torches turned off, we flew down a zip wire into the unknown. The guides were almost complete Kiwi stereotypes - everything was "oh, sweet, man" "Oh, cold water, swell," "yeah, certain death, awesome," and they were keen to try practical jokes on us unsuspecting tourists throughout. I didn't fall for their shenanigans though. Of course not.

Then we began the bulk of the journey on foot, crawling through tiny passages, sliding down jets of water, swimming through tunnels and climbing up waterfalls. It was all great fun, and a little challenging, too. Another "swell" day, "awesome, man", and another thing ticked off the list.

More photos to come... watch this space.
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The test-your-suitability dry run …
The test-your-suitability dry run…
The team
The "team"
What was I thinking doing this?!
What was I thinking doing this?!
Learning to abseil
Learning to abseil
Abseiling
Abseiling
Off we go
Off we go
Relieved to see sunlight
Relieved to see sunlight
Get me out!
Get me out!
Waitomo
photo by: MadeleineGL