Monday, December 13, 2010

Waitamo Caves

The Waitamo region is home to hundreds of caves, and almost as many companies anxious to get you into them. Black water rafting is the main drawcard - essentially cave tubing along with some leaps into underground pools and waterfalls. What makes this activity especially enticing here are the millions of gloworms who inhabit these caves. You may have seen these guys on Nation Geographic or BBC's Planet Earth. They are crazy. Thriving in dark wet places, these little larvae attach themselves to the roof of a cave and extend a fishing line of gooey saliva to capture any prey who's drawn to their illuminescent bums. The environment here is one of the best in the world for these fellas to thrive, so there are just billions of them.

We chose an operation called "Rap, Raft and Rock" to take us into these underground worm lairs, cause they throw in a little bit of everything you might wanna do in a giant hole in the ground. Rapelling 100 feet into the earth. Rafting through a series of caves. And rock climbing your way out at the end. I've recently learned that I seriously love all things rapel/abseil/rock climbing related, so it was a big hit.

Inside the caves, we were treated to drifting in gentle rapids, jumping into deep pools, squeezing through some insanely clastrophobic spaces, and my personal favorite - laying down with our headlamps off, our eyes slowly adjusting to the dark and revealing thousands of gloworms, lighting up the cave like a sky full of the most brilliant stars you've ever seen. It was a seriously magical moment that must be experienced to be fully understood. We even got to get up close and personal with the glowing critters and see them in their saliva-fishing action. Totally weird and awesome.

At the completion of our underground adventures, we switched off our lamps again and followed the twinkly lights of the gloworms out of the dark cavern. Super cool. After climbing the slippery cliff back to sea level, in giant rubber boots and with no instruction whatsoever, I felt like a serious superwoman.

A swim back at the campsite followed by a snooze in a hammock wrapped up our day pretty perfectly.

For complete photos of our Waitamo Caves adventure, click HERE.

No comments:

Post a Comment