Today, we left Hot Water Beach for Waitomo. On our way we stopped to take a 60-minute hike to the Karangahahe Gorge. First, we had to cross a very wobbly bridge, and then we made our way through the woods (it was raining). After walking uphill for a while, we ended up in an old mining tunnel that was truly pitch black. You couldn’t see anything at all, except for the faint light of a few glow works on the ceiling. It felt a little like we were following the stars.
After having arrived in Waitomo and checked in, the few of us who wanted to visit the Waitomo glow worm caves were picked up by a shuttle. I decided to do the 3h Labyrinth – a tour through the caves that involves tubing, waterfalls, and – obviously – lots and lots of glow worms. However, there are a few different tours – some of my friends decided to go for the 5h Abyss, which in addition involves abseiling. If you aren’t fond of the water, there are also walking tours where you can visit a variety of caves.
As we arrived at the Black Water Rafting, we were immediately handed wet suits (yes,they actually were wet), socks, boots, and a helmet. After everyone had changed into their suits, the guides told us a little about safety, what we were going to do, and how to behave in the caves. We then got into a van and drove about 5 minutes to a small river. There, we received our tubes and practiced how to correctly jump off a waterfall. For this, we each stood backwards on a small platform, pressed our tubes against our behind, and then jumped, landing on our tube instead of hitting the water with our face. After we all managed, we got back into the van and drove another 5 minutes to the entrance of the cave.
It was less spectacular than any had expected – it was just a river with a stone wall covering it a little. We all got into the river and then, one by one, climbed into the so-called cave. And that’s when it all unfolded – we found ourselves in an actual cave with a few entrances and exits on all the sides. Our guides showed us the entrance we were going to use, and climbed through the 70cm high hole into an even bigger cave. We were still following the river, so we climbed onto our tubes and floated on the water for a while.
Surrounding us were glow worms – they were on our left and our right, and they covered the entire ceiling above us. Their light was almost a little turquoise, and it looked like the Milky Way was above us. If you look up pictures of the Waitomo Glow Worm Caves, that is exactly what it looked like – surprisingly.
As we moved deeper into the cave, the numbers of glow worms increased. At one particularly beautiful intersection, heaps of glow worms were above us, and before us, a small waterfall. It only was about one metre high, but nonetheless exciting. One by one we all got ready to jump off it, and even though it was small, it was absolutely exhilarating – especially with that view.
After about 3 hours, we made our way to the exit of the cave. Unfortunately, no cameras (not even a GoPro) were allowed, so I wasn’t able to take any pictures. The guides took a few which could be purchased afterwards, however they charged too much money for anyone to buy them.
Thankfully, I have the memory.
If you want to see more pictures of my travels, check out my Instagram.