Full of adventures!!!
19.07.2006 10 °C
The name waitomo comes from wai meaning water and tomo meaning hole/shaft. A very appropriate name given the countryside is dotted with numerous shafts dropping abruptly into underground cave systems and streams.
These are the main tourist attraction and why Waitomo was our first stop on our little tour of the north island.
It's only a small place and if you're not down the caves then there isn't much for you to do.
Whilst on the bus we were flicking through the list of activities trying to decide what we wanted to do, or more importantly, what we dared to do.
I fancied the caving as I really wanted to see the glow worms but wasn't sure whether I wanted to take the easy option of a boat ride through it and therefore not get wet. However, seen as it was chucking it down, Laura wisely pointed out that we were going to get wet whatever we decided to do. So, blackwater tubing through the Glow Worm caves it was. I'm pretty glad I didn't know what this entailed before I went down.
We arrived in Waitomo and there were 8 of us who had decided to do the tubing. We were taken by a quite large young man called Kerry down to a shed to change into our wetsuits. We all stripped off into our bikinis (except the lads, who wore trunks)and then spent a good half hour trying to squeeze into already wet wetsuits. Once in there was little room for movement, I found that I couldn't really bend my legs and was slightly worried that the blood wasn't getting to my feet.
We were then given hard hats and all piled into the minibus and driven to the top of a hill in a field. We were joined by Winny, who was even bigger than Kerry (and when I say big, I don't mean tall!). Someone made a comment that if the caves were small we might get stuck but Kerry pointed out that if he and Winny could get through, we'd have no problems..!
We each picked up a black rubber ring and then climed down into the depths of the cave.
As soon as we were told to turn the lights off on our helmets the place was lit up with tiny flourescent lights. Thousands of glow worms. I was enjoying this!!
We walked a bit further into the caves and then the really deep water started. It was brown and really bloody cold too. We were all told to sit in out rings and then you had to grab the feet of the person behind you and rest them on your ring (fnar fnar!!). This meant that as we sailed down the depths of the cave we would all keep together!! Well, that was what was meant to happen. Unforntunately for Laura, the Japanese girl in front of her was having a hard time understanding the feet holding principle and kept grabbing onto my shoulders and letting Laura float away (they still have't found her, ha ha ha!!!!).
So we floated along in the the really cold dirty water with our lights off marvelling at all the glow warms. It really was a spectacular sight, there's millions of them.
We then came to our first waterfall. Only about 8 feet high but we had to fall backwards over it onto our rings, keeping our mouths shut so as not to get a mouthful of dirty water. This was a little difficult for me as I found it all so funny and was therefore unable to keep my mouth shut. I swallowed a lot of dirty water which will no doubt result in me getting some dirty water desease!
We did some more floating and then it was the 20 foot water slide down another waterfall. Awesome!!! It's very strange to be sitting on a black rubber tube 100 feet underground getting ready to slide down a plastic slide. Unfortunately, Kerry had taken a bit of a shine to Laura and I and decided that before we wooshed down the slide, he'd pull our heads back so that all the dirty water gushing down the waterfall went right into our wetsuits and all over our faces. Another healthy lungfull of cave water for each of us. Nice.
At the bottom of the slide we were given a hot drink of orange and continued our way through the cave to the exit. This was the hardest bit, walking through a cave, hot orange in one hand, a blig black rubber tube in the other and only a small torch on our heads. Not many of us got to drink that hot orange as most of it spilled out.
It was a great experience though. Some people were literally shaking with the cold by the time we finished but we had hot showers and soup back at the shed. Awesome!!!
And if that's not enough, the next day we'd booked to go abseiling!!!
To give J9's typing fingers a rest I will tell you about the abseiling + there's no reason for having 2 blogs on the go, when no one can be arsed to read one as it is.....so
Abseiling you say? yes abseiling. That's the one where you lower yourself down cliffs & things on ropes yeah? oh yes... & that's exactly what we did.
We had to go back to the same office as we'd been yesterday for the caving & we were horrified to be met by Kerry again with a glint in his eye, informing us we would spend the afternoon with him again. J9 promptly & politely replied "I'm not going anywhere with you" which made him laugh but the group preparing for caving looked a little shaken by this. We're pro's now & flipantly waved the young cavers off & met our real abseiling guide for the day Ross - who had one leg & eye patch..... only jestting, but could you imagine!
We were taken by mini bus up to the top of the hills - we were calm at this stage.
We were fitted into harness's & the same god awful wellies we had to wear yesterday (this meant more wettness) - we were calm at this stage too.
We donned hard hats & were taken over to a rope to secure our cows tails to (that's professional term for the clips you secure from your harness) - still calm.
We came to a metal contruction & platform which as we got closer realised it was positioned above a rather large chasm - calm isn't exactly a word I'd use at this stage but it wasn't anything compared to the fear we felt as we were told to swing round & sit on the metal bar across the abyss & then let our legs dangle!
Being a true friend I allowed J9 to do this bit 1st, normally such cowardness would of enraged her but she was too scared to notice I'd even volunteered her.
So there we were dangling 60 meters above not a lot & gradually began to descend. Now I'm not showing off but that initial dread soon passes & about 10 meters down we were already jesting about stopping off for cups of tea - my how we laughed. Our guide was ace too & kept telling us how well we were doing, so we tried to race him down the final stretch. It really was amazing!
Unfortunately, what goes down must go up & luckily, after all the joking about "well, you only paid for an abseil" we had to climb back to the top again... mmmmm.... we wondered... how?????
By ladder!!!! yep, lots of em as well. This was almost as worrying as the initial descent because now we were climbing away from the ground - why would anyone want to do that?
Well we did it & to reassure ourselves that we really were brave & the 1st time wasn't a fluke we did it all over again....
Next stop Rotorua