Next up on the Kiwi Experience was a visit to Waitomo for some excellent Black Water Rafting. From Hot Water Beach, we brifely stopped off at Karangahake Gorge, an old gold mining area. It's an easy stroll and worth the stop for the views.
Waitomo is a tiny town (if you can call it that) a few hours drive from the Gorge, and its main offering is a visit to the Glowworm Caves.
There are four options to experience them. The Black Odyssey and Black Abyss are the most extreme, then there's the tamer Black Labyrinth, and finally what the bus driver named the no-effort Nana tour. These caves are famous for glowworms lining the ceiling, and it is a spectacular site to see.
I chose the heavily undersold Black Labyrinth. It was described as a nice 3 ½ hour tubing ride with some waterfalls in a cave. Great, I thought. The reality was a very heavy wetsuit and jacket, fleece, booties, boots, and helmet, for a very wet, cold, rocky exploration of the caves. Talk about awkward.
It became comical how I struggled in the equipment at the start, but it was all very necessary. A couple of friends from the bus also chose this option, and we laughed our way through the whole experience.
Climbing over rocks through water and jumping off waterfalls in our tubes, we had an exhilarating rafting adventure, excellently guided by George and Tim.
Glowworms shined throughout, and the best moment was turning off our headlamps while letting the water current slowly carry us along.
The interior space varied, but the depth was 2 stories underground, so we had quite a view of the lights at certain points.
A beautiful green forest welcomed us out of the cave.
I must say, we felt pretty accomplished and amazing after the 70 minute exploration through the dark.
Afterwards, everyone helped each other rip off their wetsuits and then warmed up in nice, hot showers. Back at the main office, soup and bagels awaited us as we all gathered together to view our photos.
*All Black Water Rafting photos were taken by our guide and purchased in the gift store.*
Next up is a journey through the magical world of Hobbits.
Places worth visiting in Waitomo:
Black Water Rafting Co. for a spectacular adventure through beautiful glowworm caves.