We left hot water beach early and headed back in land. Our first stop along the way was at karangahake scenic reserve for a morning walk through some old gold mining tunnels. The walk was actually lots of fun and quite cool to see all the old tracks from the gold miners. It was also lots of fun because most of the tunnels were pitch black so we were all trying to feel our way round hoping we wouldn’t fall on our faces!
Not long after we arrived into waitomo which is a relatively small town know mainly for its black water rafting sand glow worm caves. As soon as we arrived we went straight to the rafting centre to book ourselves in as they can only take groups of about 8 at a time. We got the middle slot so had a couple of hours to kill before we started so we headed to our hostel to check in and grab some lunch before we got picked up.
As soon as we got back to the rafting centre we met our two guides and started the gruelling task of trying to get kitted up! For anyone that has been black water rafting, you know how hard that is, especially in the sun! We had to wear wet suit socks, a pair of wet suit dungaree type trousers, a wet suit jacket, boots and a helmet. And that’s all before you put on your harness! I honestly felt about 20stone heaver! Once we were all looking super fit we had a quick photo shoot before driving up to the entrance to the caves.
As we had chosen to do the black obis course we had to have a quick abseiling lesson as we had to absail down into the caves. Once we all kind of knew what we were doing, one by one we started going down into the caves. I’m not going to lie, I was shitting myself a little bit as your abseiling down into a pitch black cave and I’m hardly a pro absailer, so charlie went first. Once he was down it was my turn, and it was actually quite hard work. As I’m not that heavy, rather than having to stop myself from going quickly I had to actually feed the rope through so I could move at all! But I got down eventually and looking back up at the huge wall I had just come down made me very glad it was in darkness as otherwise I would have been even more scared!
While we were waiting for the rest of the group to get down we spotted some glow worms at the top of the cave which were beautiful! Once everyone was down we went through to the next part of the cave, where we had to zip line across a huge hole to the other side, again in pitch black! This was even scarier as you couldn’t see if there was anything in front of you or if you were going to hit anything! Again I made Charlie go first! It was actually really cool and there was nothing to worry about!
After the zip wire we were then each given a black rubber ring, like the ones you get at water parks, and we’re told we had to jump off the side of the ledge we were on into the black water below. Once again I was terrified, but this time mainly because I knew how cold the water was going to be and I didn’t want to go under! Never the less they convinced me to jump and I swear to god I have never felt water that cold before in my life, even with a wet suit on! It was FREEZING, so they didn’t leave us hanging around for long. We started to float down the cave in single file until we reached the end. Here we were given hot chocolate and a flapjack which I don’t think I’ve ever been so thankful for!
Once we had finished we were all told to turn our head torches off and look up, and the whole of the roof of the cave was covered in glow worms. It was so beautiful. Once we had finished ooing and arhing at the glowing poo (which is what actually makes the glow worms glow) we were told to keep our torches off and try and find our way back up stream in the dark! This proved very hard and luckily there was a rope for us to follow otherwise we would have been stuck there for a while!
Back at the ledge we jump off of we left our rings behind and started to walk through what the guides call “the drunken stumble” mainly because the rocks underneath you are so uneven that you look like a drunk person trying to get home! It was hilarious watching everyone randomly falling over into the shallow water, it was almost like it was choreographed, one after the other!
Next we got to the “re-birth cannel” where one by one we had to try and squeeze through this tinny hole in the rock to get to the other side. The next part of the trip we had to swim as the water got a bit deeper until we got to the built in slide which we had to go down head first.
After some more walking and swimming we got to some much smaller caves where we saw a lonesome eel who were told had lived in the caves for over 40years! We said goodbye to mr eel and then it was time for the finale. To get back out of the caves we had to climb free hand, with no harness or ropes, up two waterfalls.
To be fair it actually wasn’t as hard as I’m making out, both our guides where helping us the whole time but it was still really cool and I was super proud of myself at the end! Once we got back and had taken all our gear off we were given free soup and bagels which everyone devoured in about 2mins! We weren’t able to take any cameras or phones down with us obviously but our guides took loads of pics for us which we have on a memory stick so again your going to have to wait to see them all!
As we got back to the hostel we heard from one shouting Charlie’s name and turned round to find our friend Matt from our contiki tour standing at the bottom of the stairs. Matt lives in waitomo but as we hadn’t given him much notice we didn’t think we were going to get a chance to see him, so it was a lovely surprise. We went down and had a couple of drinks with him in the hostel bar before everyone called it a night.
The next morning we up bright and early again to start our journey to rotorua. We only had one stop on the way to do another morning walk. The walk was mainly for the few people that hadn’t gone black water rafting so they still got a chance to see some of the caves that were accessible by foot. It was a nice walk, but it was never going to be as impressive as what we had done the day before!
As I said above unfortunately all this pics from these days arnt on my phone so I only have 1 measly one to show you from the walk we did!