Adventure in New Zealand-Waitomo Caves
If you have been reading the blogs from our NZ instructor training course you will know by know that this country is a whole other world of awesome! The activities we do with our groups are unlike anything you can do on an ski course anywhere else in the world. This week we went on an adventure north to Waitomo Caves.
Located north of Mt Ruapehu the waitomo district once sat below the ocean floor until tectonic plates pushed it up to the surface along with the rest of New Zealand. The region is littered with over 800 caves, most of them hidden below farmers paddocks. The word waitomo comes from the Maori language, wai=water tomo=hole.
We went with the crew from Waitomo adventures on two tours in one day. In the morning we set out to do tumutumu tubing and in the afternoon stepped up the adrenaline levels and did the haggas honking holes tour. We set off in the morning looking a bit out of place tramping through a herd of sheep in wet suites, helmets and gumboots but once we got underground it was obvious why we were dressed in a ridiculous fashion. The vast majority of the cave system was full of water from boot deep right up to neck deep in some spots.
After squeezing through the entrance we started hiking up stream until we were up to our chests in an underground river. The first section our guide Ian had us grab a hold of a rope and turn off our lamps as we waded through the water, we thought he was a bit nuts but if you looked around you could see thousands of tiny glowing worms lighting up the cave like the night sky. It was easily one of the coolest things I have ever seen. After we got out of the water it was time to squeeze through what was known as the re-birthing canal.
The 6 of us were sent on our hands and knees into this tiny hole barely big enough to crawl though without our headlamps and had to crawl about 50 meters holding on to each others boots so we knew where we were, one of the most intense team building exercises someone could come up with. Some more tramping through the cave in and out of holes followed, then we were at another section of the cave where we found a pile of inner tubes. We hopped in, flicked off our lights and floated through the river under another beautiful display of glow-worms. By the time we were done we had spent well over 2 hours under ground.
After a lunch at the local pub in what felt like summertime temperature we were back in our wetsuits for more underground shenanigans. The afternoon tour was way more intense, starting off with a 6o foot rappel down into the darkness the second adventure saw us abseiling through several waterfalls ending up about 70m underground, definitely not for the faint of heart. Of course once we were at the bottom we had to get back up through a series of underground rock climbs. This tour was nothing short of badass!
Thanks to the crew at Waitomo Adventures for an amazing day underground.