Nomadic New Zealand Day 4 - WAITOMO
Day 4 began as most days do with a nice big breakfast and a coffee to start the day. Horrible decision of muesli for AdventureFitter Tommy Hyde but we’ll forgive him for that. So after breakfast Curly the local legend who hosted us last night sorted us out and got us a transfer down to the Ruakuri Cave where we were about to do 5 hours of exploring.
After chucking on our wet wetties, booties and helmets we were ready to go. So we jumped in another van and drove out to a big hole in the ground basically. This is where we started out trip. We were then informed we’d be abseiling down 35 metres into the darkness to start our trip…….Our jaws hit the floor. We did some training and psyched ourselves up but it didn’t help. This shit was scary! AdventureFitter Lynda was probably the most unsure of herself in the lead up, but the team were all behind her. Chris took the lead and plunged in first like an absolute boss. We got Lynda up next and underway so she didn’t have to wait too long and phsyche herself out. So up she went, strapped herself in and gone she was. Not so hard after all. She did a great job. But that was just the beginning.
After a bit of a walk through the darkness of our glowworm filled cave we came to a stop. Our tour leaders told us this next part we had to trust them. They strapped us in to a piece of something or other, gave us something to grab onto and we were away. Yep, you guessed it, a flying fox! Let me tell you, flying through the darkness on a zipline you don’t know where is going to end is pretty intense stuff. After we all survived the zip line it was time to explore the cave a bit. Our guides were great taking us through facts about our stalactites and stalagmites, glow worms and even the cave itself. After a little while longer we had made it to an large rocky cliff about 3 metres above the water below. Here is where we had some lunch. Hanging our legs over the edge, sipping hot chocolate and eating biscuits as a group of fully grown adults was pretty cool. A sight to see no doubt. After our little snack the guys told us that our black water rafting tour was about to begin. How do you get down to the water someone asked, the answer, jump of course!! So we jumped. Some of us gracefully, most of us not. Coach Doc even tried the old summersault into the water trip and nearly landed himself on a nearby wall. But we made it. We were about to begin.
So here we were, floating and wading through the darkness in our little rubber tyres, giggling, puffing and panting our way along. This went on for a while. We would walk, wade and float through the beautiful cave taking in the amazingness of the creepy nature all around us. The whole time the banter between our group was always flowing. But then Troy our tour guide stopped us and told us to lay back in our tubes, turn our lights off and link up by putting our feet through the arms of the person in front of us. Then without saying it we all went silent. Everyone respected the moment. We were floating along in the silent darkness watching glow worms all around us light up the dark. It was an amazing moment. It felt like everything was going in slow motion but at the same time it was over too quickly. I’m sure we’d all agree we would have been happy to float through the tranquility for hours more. What a highlight.
Once you go through something like that on a normal tour you’d imagine it would be winding up. But our tour was the Black Abyss Tour. 5 full hours. Little did we know it had only just begun.
So after a big more wading and swimming, glow worms and walkways, we got to the waterfalls. This is where Matty our guide told us we’d be climbing up these waterfalls. This was very serious stuff though. The volume of water plunging down these waterfalls meant that one wrong step and you’d be in a serious bit of trouble. So Matty went and set himself up inside the waterfall, as we came through he would tap our limb and point where to place it in order for us to make it up the waterfall. The reason he couldn’t just tell us where to put our feet and hands was we simply wouldn’t hear him. It sounded like a jumbo jet taking off inside the waterfall. So one by one we went through, climbing and scrambling our way up the waterfall, onto our knees and through to safety on the other end. We all made it. And it was lucky we were CrossFitters. A large percentage of people turn around and don’t attempt it. It’s just too gnarly.
One more waterfall and a few more ups and downs and we were out. We had survived The Black Abyss. It was a seriously action packed adventure in a landscape unlike any we’d ever seen before. What a day.
After our adventure we heard about a great walk we could do through the reserve in the area. But even though we were all CrossFitters and pretty keen, fit and excitable, we were smoked. We had a couple of hours in the van ahead of us to get to Tongariro National Park to prepare for the crossing in the morning. So after another lovely dinner and a quick spa in our accommodations outdoor spa it was to bed early for the gang.
Tomorrow we hit Mordor.
AdventureFitter Elise's Thoughts On Waitomo Caves
I’d say our crazy little group bonded over the next few days of total epicness. If seeing each other in skin tight wetsuit and strategically placed harness doesn’t do it, then hanging on to each other for dear life in the freezing water will (cheers Trent!). Waitomo caves were completely awesome, starting off with an abseil down into the cave system, flying fox into the pitch black, and hot chocolate stop before jumping from the rocks into the ice cold water on a rubber tube. As we travelled down the river admiring the wicked glow worms above our heads, everyone went silent in our rubber tube train and took it all in.
After peacefully cruising downstream, it was time to jump out of our tubes and take on the caves by foot. Waist deep in freezing water, we waded over rocks, crawled through tunnels, and climbed up waterfalls. Totally spent and freezing but completely exhilarated, we emerged from the caves ready for a hot shower and soup, then back in our trusty bus and off to our next destination, Tongariro.
Waitomo caves brought about challenges of the fear of the unknown to what was ahead of us, the fear of height, tight spaces and darkness. It all began with a cute little outfit change (not cute at all the wetsuits didn’t even come in pink!) tight black wetsuits, white boots, helmet and a tight harness leaving nothing to the imagination (just a good looking bunch really). From our descent into the cave the adventure that was to come was sure to bring about many challenges and surprises along the way. Stopping to be harnessed in to what was to soon become a flying fox through the darkness of the cave, hot chocolates and anzac biscuits (amazing yummo) jumping into freezing water and staring up at the beautiful glow worms the cave had on display. If you had a fear of tight confined spaces this was soon to change, crawling through tunnels, waterfalls and holding onto rocks or others for dear life. After emerging from the caves we settled for hot showers and soup before heading to our next destination. The experience of the waitomo caves was a breath taking experience, something we will never forget.
AdventureFitter Allan's Thoughts
Out of all the experiences so far this was definitely the one that was most memorable. This was the first real adventure for our group, the first actual AdventureFit experience. The name AdventureFit perfectly describes what this day was all about; from abseiling to front flipping into black water and climbing up waterfalls. This experience really emphasized everyone’s strengths, weaknesses and generally was one hell of a bonding experience.
The first obstacle we all encountered was the abseil down a black hour-glass hole. Even though this wasn’t the first time I have abseiled I still found it very challenging and was the start of one hell of an adventure. From here on we were flying down flying foxes into darkness, front flipping into black water, tubing up the cave and climbing up waterfalls.
Once we completed our tubing experience upstream we then started to float downstream. The guide then got us to lie on our backs and join our tubes up like a chain. Our lights were turned off and we were floating down the cave in dead silence. The view of the glow-worms on the cave roof was out of this world. Watching the maggots burn their waste products was definitely one of the highlights of the trip.
After this tranquil moment I was leading the pack and almost took everyone down the waterfall because I missed the inconspicuous 180 degree right turn. After this check-point it was mainly uphill, which included climbing up rocky ledges and waterfalls. The guides were excellent and ensured we didn’t injure ourselves along the way. This experience is unquestionably something I will never forget.
This is just one little snippet of that day at Waitomo Caves which goes to show how amazing that day and this entire trip was. I would highly recommend AdventureFit Travel and all the trips they have to come.
Bill, otherwise known as ‘Doc’ is the founding father of AdventureFit Travel. An avid traveller/backpacker Doc spends more time with a backpack on his back than your average primary school student. Across his travels Doc encountered many adventures. From swimming with sharks, patting lions, riding elephants and running with bulls. He has visited 5 continents on his quest for adventure and plans to visit more with his AdventureFit family.
Not only is Doc passionate about lust for adventure but he is also an avid fitness enthusiast. Working in the CrossFit industry has shown him... Read more.