March 8 - 10:  Waitomo

Waitomo is on the western side of the North Island, and it's famous for caves!  And, of course, all the ways to play in them.  Waitomo is where black water rafting (tubing in underground rivers) was first done, and that's still the most popular activity there.  That, and seeing glowworms, which are little worms that hang from the cave ceilings and emit a blue-green glow.  It's like looking up at a night sky, if all the stars were blue-green; very pretty.

However, this being New Zealand, somebody decided there must be a more extreme way to play in the caves.  And that's what we did:  we spent a whole day doing the Lost World Epic tour.  The tour starts out with suiting up in wetsuits and big white gumboots; then a quick lesson on using ropes, and it's off to the caves.  Our group consisted of us, fellow Americans Michael and Elise, and our tour guides James and Teri.


Boots & Suits

The first step is a really big one:  a 300 foot rappel (they call it "abseiling") down into the cave.  Whooooooooo!

No hands!


Safe at the bottom....


At the bottom


And then we got out of the cave by following the river.  
In order to do that, we climbed rocks....

climbing...

did some swimming, jumped off one waterfall and climbed another...


waterfalls....


jumped over rocks and crawled under boulders...

under boulders


and, all in all, had a BLAST!!!!!!

blast

(And oh yeah, we did the *much* tamer tubing the next day...about all we could manage the day after the Epic!!)



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