The Underworld

Trip Start Feb 27, 2007
Trip End Aug 01, 2007

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Flag of New Zealand  ,
Sunday, June 24, 2007


My last little adventure in New Zealand took me to the sleepy little town of Waitomo, population of around 30. By rights this place shouldnt even be on the map, and you'd certainly be forgiven for passing through without taking a second glance.

However, speak to anyone who has ever backpacked New Zealand before and they will tell you a short stay in Waitomo is almost mandatory, as it is the home of the Waitomo Caves. This is a system of over 300 beautiful underground limestone caverns, underground rivers and pouring waterfalls, and home to millions of tiny glow worms lighting up the darkness of the underworld.

My one day there was spent on the 'Black Abyss' tour with the Legendary Black Water Rafting Company. This was a 5 hour underground extravaganza taking you through many of the most interesting places in the Waitomo Cave system.

It began with a 40 metre abseil into almost complete darkness, from a tiny hole on the surface into a vast cavern below. It was like falling into another world. Then it was a journey of crawling, climbing, swimming and rafting through caves and rivers until we finally saw sunlight again.

Highlights included the flying fox, which was a pitch black zip-line from one cave to another down a narrow chasm. We had no idea where we were going or indeed where the end was. Then being given a giant rubber ring and being asked to jump off a ledge into darkness. This took some nerve and a lot of trust of our guides, as we didnt know what or where the bottom was. Turns out it was about a 5 metre drop into a freezing river!

The climax to the adventure was probably the best part, where we had to climb up 3 fairly powerful waterfalls to reach a narrow passageway above, where we could see faint rays of sunshine creeping in.

It was probably the most hardcore days entertainment I had in New Zealand, and an excellent way to finish an amazing tour of the country.

Now Ive just got to head north up to Auckland to catch my plane back to Sydney...Im just hoping it is not still raining there!

Fingers crossed...

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