Waitomo

We had booked ourselves onto the Black Labyrinth trip at the Black Water Rafting Co. .

The rain had continued to tip down all morning and we thought that the trip may be in jeopardy but the company decided to go ahead with it, albeit with an extra guide due to the high water level.

We were taken round the back of the building to kit up. We donned wetsuits, very tasteful shorts and helmets with lamps. We then loaded ourselves into a minibus for the 5 minute drive to the cave. There were 8 visitors and 3 guides on the trip.

The first activity was to check that our rubber inner tubes would support us. Ths was done by getting each of us to hold our tube onto our backsides and then leaping backwards off a jetty into a stream. Vic and I were both less than keen on this but we both carried it off with
relative aplomb. So now we were cold and wet, as well as clad in soggy wetsuits. We jumped back into the minibus and were taken to the cave.

The entrance to the cave was a pretty small hole in the ground into which a fast flowing stream was gushing. The extra guide went frstto check out that the caves were still navigable due to the water levels still rising. He came back and gave the all clear and we then entered the caves one by one, taking great care not to be swept away by the thunderous force of the stream pouring into the cave.

Once we were all in we walked a little way in the caves before coming to our first “awkward bit”. This was passing through a tunnel into the next cave, but the water level was so high that you had to float through the tunnel lying flat on your back with your face an inch or two from the tunnel roof.

After that we got to float along tunnels on our inner tubes with our head-lamps turned off; the caves lit only by the glow-worms on the ceiling of the cave. The guides call the glow-worms “canniballistic maggots with shiny poo” which is apparently a more accurate description of them.

The next challenge was the waterfall. We had to leap off the waterfall into the dark holding on to our tubes, and then catch up with the rest of the group in the pool below.

We both managed that with not too much trouble, though Vic couldn’t see when she hit the water due to her contact lenses moving.

After that it was mostly more floating in the dark while holding on to the feet of another member of the group, and then paddling through the dark to the exit.

All in all we were underground for well over an hour and some parts of the trip were quite challenging with the huge amount of water flowing through the caves threatening to sweep you off your feet.

Emerging from the caves it was a relief to see that the rain had stopped, but the water level had risen even more.

We retired to our campsite and the pub and pizza restaurant across the road for some hot food and a beer before turning in early exhausted.

The next morning we woke to aching limbs, particularly our thighs from the semi-crouch walking in the cave. We picked up a couple of t-shirts from the caving company and dropped in at the Shearing Shed which specialises in products made from Angora rabbit wool, though we didn’t buy anything there.

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