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  • Day11

    Waitomo Caves

    December 26, 2016 in New Zealand ⋅ 🌫 3 °C

    Waitomo, located in the center of the North Island, has several underground limestone caves. These are home to bioluminescent glow worms, subterranean rivers, and can be explored through caving. We booked a tour called "Black Abyss" which featured abseiling, rafting, and climbing.

    We got equipped with wetsuits, climbing gear and helmets and set off. After a quick instruction in rapelling, we descended down 30 meters into the cave through a small hole. Once in the cave, we were hooked into a zip line to descend a bit further.

    We didn't stay dry for long. We jumped into the chilly water, which flooded our roomy wetsuits, and tubed a section up to a small waterfall. From there, we linked together, turned off our headlamps, and were pulled along by the guide. There was a galaxy of glow worms that glittered the walls and ceiling. From afar, they're beautiful. We got up close to some as the guide explained more about them. They prey on small insects that get trapped in the cave by attracting them with their glow. The insects think they've found a way out, but instead get stuck in a toxic set of strings produced by the worms.

    We continued by foot down the river - stumbling a bit over the rocky, uneven ground. There were also sections requiring swimming. We slid down a slide the company had installed and that we both agreed was a bit tacky. We ascended out of the caves by free climbing up two sets of waterfalls which was pretty cool.

    After a hot shower, we had some soup and bagels, and then took off to make our way northwards.

    Overall, it was a pretty surreal setting, spending most of our time 60 meters underground. However, we don't think it was really worth the $240/pp price tag. You're not allowed to bring a camera for safety reasons, but they charge $30 to buy the pictures they took. We feel like it would have been more reasonable to have them included. Instead, we leave you with the bathroom warden, a large spider.
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