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Black water rafting

The caves of Waitomo


View Backpacking in New Zealand on Prathyush's travel map.

We were up early at Rotorua and got onto the Kiwi bus for the first time. Our driver was a nice, fat lady named Relle. The bus wasn't fully packed so both Arun and me managed to window seats.

We heard so much about the legendary Kiwi bus drivers that I was eager to see what they have to offer. And I wasn't disappointed. They have a microphone just above their head at the driver's seat and they keep updating us with lots of information - facts, activities we can do, accommodation booking, and well, all kinds of trivia about new zealand. Relle was quite funny and I liked her immediately.

Our first stop was a sheep show. None of us were very enthusiastic about getting off till one of the show guys got onto the bus and made everything sound really exciting. So well, we decided to pay up and check it out.

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There were about 20 types of sheep and they formed a kind of pyramid on stage and we were told about where they are from and what they are famous for. Quite boring I gotta say.

The funny part of the show was the audience. There were about 50-60 Korean tourists - all of them above 50 surely and they were clapping and cheering and laughing out loud. Well, I wasn't sure if they were excited about seeing sheep or that they could listen to the Korean version of the show on the headphones they bought. One of the ajummas was called up on stage and she did the ever so familiar annonygaseyo on stage and we couldn't help but smile.

From here, we headed onto Waitomo which is famous for its glowworm caves and BLACK WATER RAFTING.

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We reached the hostel, Kiwipaka in Waitomo. It was a nice little place with trees all around and a small pub called the Curly's Bar. We dumped our stuff and were soon picked up by the black water rafting guys.

There were again plenty of options to choose from and we chose The Labyrinth which was a 3 hour black water rafting trip and we were warned that it was going to get COLD and WET. About 10 of us chose the Labyrinth. We were given our wet suits, shoes and helmets. It was so difficult to get into the wet suits. After struggling for a while, we managed to get into them and we got into the van and we were off to the caves. Unfortunately, we weren't allowed to take our own cameras with us since the wet suits had no pockets. But our guide had one and she assured us that there'll be plenty of photographs.

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Before entering the cave, we were given a small demonstration on how to jump over rapids. We basically had to turn around, put the tube to our butt and leap off backwards. We of course had to avoid hitting the cave ceiling or the in-numerous rocks around us. So this basically was Black water tubing rather than rafting. After a bit of practice, we got the technique and we entered the caves.

It was pitch dark inside and the water was FREEZING. But it was a lot of fun. We had to jump off plenty of small rapids in complete darkness, just guided by the small flashlights we had on our helmets which were basically useless.

And then there were the glowworms. There are a few sights you never forget in your life time and for me, this is one of them. We were gliding on freezing water in pitch darkness and there were thousands of glowworms on the ceiling showing us the way. It was a really beautiful sight.

We all stopped in one of the caves for a small snack. From there, we had to crawl our way through a very narrow cave, get onto our tube and start paddling with our hands to the exit without switching on our flash lights. We kept bumping into rocks and into each other and half of us nearly got lost at one turning. But finally all of us made our way out of the exit dragging our tubes behind us.

Then came the bad decision. We got back, changed into dry clothes and had some amazing hot soup. The photographs were available at a price of 20NZD per CD. We should have bought the damn CD. But one of the guys, Charles, bought it and we thought that we could just take the CD and copy the photographs.
But after we got back, we could never catch hold of Charles and now, we have absolutely no photographs of the craziest adventure we had.

Update:
We ran into a girl, Christina, in the south island we was a friend of Charles. Arun gave his email ID to her and she promised that she would add him so that we could catch hold of Charles. Well, we are still WAITING and hoping that someday she'll add him and we'll get to see our photographs. Let's see ......

There was nothing much to do at Waitomo. There was a nice pub with a couple of pool tables. And of course, the barbeque dinner. A huge steak, sausage and baked potatoes - YUMMY.

Next morning, we were off to Taupo. On the way we stopped by the caves again. But this time for a short hike over them.
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We saw the narrow cave opening and we couldn't believe it was the same cave where we had come out of the day before.
We got back to the bus and were off to Taupo.

Posted by Prathyush 02:56 Archived in New Zealand

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