“This is sooo cool!” is the exclamation I heard many times on our black water rafting adventure into the glowworm caves of Waitomo, New Zealand. When you are abseiling down a sheer 37m drop you need to do it with sheer enthusiasm. Luckily, I was with a lovely bunch of energetic people egging each other on, which made us more appreciative of an already fun and challenging cave exploration.
When deciding what activities I wanted to do on my working holiday in New Zealand, the Black Abyss tour with The Legendary Black Water Rafting Co, was one of the things highly recommended to me by Working Holiday Starter. Although pricey at $225 – $185 for Kiwi Experience members like myself – there is no doubt in my mind that it was worth the dollar. People may rave about flinging themselves from a height here in New Zealand with bungee jumps and skydiving, but going to what feels like another world underground for about five hours is what I will be raving about.
Once we were all kitted up in sexy wetsuits, we were given a quick lesson in abseiling, ending on some abseiling races. Anyone who knows me will not be surprised that I lost – I am that person in school you did not want on your team in P.E.
Everyone regrouped underground for an ice breaking name game, then onwards into the caves. It was not long before seeing the blue lights of the glowworms decorating the ceilings like fairy lights on a Christmas tree.
Ever ziplined down a pitch-black cave? Yep, we did that followed by delicious flapjack and hot chocolate. I’d like to take this time to say that the two guides really looked after us well. Here is me looking pleased about the food being included on our trip:
Ever jumped into a pool with a rubber ring? Ok, lots of people have done that… but it’s fun every time. The water was refreshing to say the least. I am a skinny white girl so I shook from the cold the whole time I was in the rubber ring. One complaint – I wish I had been warmer. As long as my mind was on glowworm stories, Maori cave initiation ceremonies (see photo for my cave mud face), and pulling myself through the river, I didn’t have to think about how cold I was.
A good way to wash the excessive mud off my face was to slide down a little waterfall, which we tackled face first.
The rest of our adventure involved manoeuvring though the Waitomo cave by drunkenly walking though rapids, squeezing through the so called “Rebirth”, and climbing up two waterfalls to make our way back the surface.
Our group agreed we couldn’t pick a favourite part of our Black Water Rafting tour. Just as we had done something awesome, we were hit with more awesomeness.
Winding down and warming up with bagels and soup, we viewed our photos on the TV screen, reminiscing on the fun we had a mere hours ago. The said photos could be purchased for $30 on a USB stick – not too bad when we can split the cost between seven people.
I am already surprised by New Zealand. Where all my excitement has been aimed towards the South Island, I hadn’t realised the range of new experiences that could be had while still in the North Island. I definitely underestimated how cool – “this is sooo cool” – black water rafting, abseiling and caving could be.
A New Zealand must-do.