After Raglan, we headed through the bush back roads to a small town called Waitomo, known for its holes in the ground and underground network of caves. The caves I visited were lit naturally by glowing worms native to New Zealand. I heard that the best way to explore the caves was by Blackwater Rafting (otherwise known as Black Water Tubing). I thought Tumu Tumu Toobing, where riding an inner tube through an underground network of pitch black caves, would be exciting. I am always up for trying something new and I knew Tumu Tumu Tubing would be the perfect thing to try in Waitomo.
Although I have been spelunking before in Canada and Australia I haven’t explored caves quite to this magnitude before. Even with the two tubing sections, I was required to climb down latters, crawl through small spaces, shimmy through crevices, slide through skinny openings, swim through ice cold water (4 degree Celsius), and walk over razor sharp rocks (among other obstacles). If that sounds difficult enough, a second element was added in: complete darkness. I scurried through the caves with only a head lamp on. At times, we turned off our lights and worked our way through the caves & tunnels in darkness, with only the glow worms reflection on the black water. So cool! Could you do it?
The family owned Waitomo Adventures showed me their underground playground and I now see why they are New Zealand’s most popular independent operator. It was hard to believe that I spent hours underground. Of course I was suited in the thickest wetsuit I have ever been in to keep me warm throughout the underground journey. Walking through Backwater rapids underground (scale 1-2) in the spectacular Tumu Tumu Cave with my gummy boots on was pretty unique and hilarious. As I was tramping and splashing (clumsily falling at times) around in the caves like a telly-tubby, I was constantly distracted my the magnificent glow worms (Arachnocampa Luminosa) and formations. I couldn’t take my eyes off the ceiling of the cave; it is no wonder I kept tripping in the dark underground rooms.
The four hour adventure will be one I will remember for a lifetime. When I think back on my time in New Zealand I definitely won’t forget my dark, cold, and wet day scrambling under the earth’s surface. As adventurous as I am, there were moments when I wondered what would happen if the ceiling came crashing down around me. It seems that on every trip I push my limits even further to do something more daring. I am not sure what could ever come next!