Early morning start today, 7:30 a.m. from Hot Water Beach towards Waitomo. Luckily I had turned in fairly early and slept pretty happily in our quiet lodge. After a couple hours on the bus, we stopped by Karangahake Gorge for a short hike. This place was big for mining, we walked through several mining tunnels with old equipment still scattered around.
We loaded back onto the bus and headed straight for Waitomo. This place is tiny, ridiculously tiny, the only thing to do here is to wander through Ruakuri Cave, one of the glow worm caves in New Zealand. I had already decided I was going to do the black water rafting adventure through The Legendary Black Water Rafting Co. and had my ticket ready for the three hour tour.
After being picked up and taken to the company, they make you sign some things basically stating that if you die that you can’t sue them and then you are told to change into wetsuits. Already soaked wetsuits which was a miserable experience since they were cold and hard to pull on. Time to take group pictures then load back onto a van and head to the river where the tour begins.
The guides show us we will jump off a couple waterfalls during the tour and we do a practice jump, which was horrible for me because the water was frigid and also shot straight up my nose and I wanted to die for a couple seconds.
The guides then lead us to the caves which you sorta slide into and wait for everyone before truly beginning. The tour was awesome! Could be a little anxiety producing at times, specifically when we had to climb through small tunnels which had a substantial drop you could fall down if you slipped. Just try not to think about it too much.
We finally settled into our tubes in a line, hooking our feet under the arms of the person in front of us and were told to turn off our headlamps. Now for what the caves are known for, utter darkness pierced only by the pale blue light of the glow worm attached to the roof of the cave. Using bioluminescence, the worms emit a faint light which is used to lure their food to them. The specifics are not as romantic as you might think but I won’t ruin the pictures.
Fun story, someone flipped me out of my tube while we were racing to the end and I lost both of my boots which entertained the guides immensely.
Tomorrow is an insanely busy day, Hobbiton early in the morning and then staying in the Maori village for the night which I believe will be a very unique experience!