I took a bus from Rotorua to Waitoma and met two other Californians on the bus! I am still in shock at how small the world is after meeting Charlotte who literally was my neighbor in San Francisco! She lived on top of the Phone Booth Bar on South Van Ness when I lived right next door! It was so strange to think we never met when we were neighbors and instead met in New Zealand! Go figure? I also met Daniel form San Diego.
Exploring the Waitoma Caves is a must do if you visit New Zealand! There are more than 300 mapped caves in the Waitoma District. There are several different options to explore the limestone caves housing glow-worms. Glow-worms are the larvae of the fungus gnat. The larva glow-worms have luminescent organs that produce a soft, greenish light. Waitoma is the best place in New Zealand to see glow-worms.
I did a 5-hour Black-Water Rafting tour (the Black Abyss) through the Ruakuri Cave which was so much fun! We started the tour by suiting up in wet-suits, boots, helmets with a light, and climbing equipment. We started out the tour by abseiling 105 feet down through a narrow hole into the cave! I had never abseiled before but we did have a practice session before we started the tour. It was pretty easy and a bit freaky as the cave was completely dark minus the small green dots, which were the glow-worms.
Next, we did a zip-line in the dark which reminded me of the Space Mountain ride at Disney World with all the glow-worms glowing like green stars. Then we each had to jump off a ledge 10 feet high (in the dark) with a black tube under our bums, landing into FREEZING cold water! They asked for a volunteer to jump first so I did it and screamed the whole way down, and even louder when I hit the icy cold water. I managed to land inside my tube. Once everyone was in the water we began floating through the caves. There were points that we got off the tubes, squeezed through tight spots, and had to climb over waterfalls. We passed by several “baby eels” which were at least 2 feet long! Our guide fed them raw bacon to keep them from biting us! At one point we had to wade through water waist high with an eel right beside us. I didn’t like that one bit!
Black water rafting is by far one of my favorite experiences in New Zealand so far and I highly recommend the tour I did: Black Abyss. I do not suggest this tour to anyone who is clausterphobic, scared of heights or thrills!
To see all of my photos from my caving and black water rafting trip CLICK HERE!