Friday, August 24, 2012

Waitomo Caves

Jay and I are still adjusting to New Zealand time. The good thing is that it has been easy to get up early and drive to our next destination, but the bad thing is today was a very long day.

We both woke up at 530 and had a great breakfast of eggs and toast. I love the kitchens in the holiday parks, its so nice that we can show up with just our food and know that we have a fully operational kitchen at our disposal. After breakfast, we drove 3 hours from Hot Water Beach to Waitomo Caves. After passing through the mountains, we only really passed farms so we didn't have many opportunities to stop and play tourist.

Since we didn't stop much, we had a few extra hours after we arrived in Waitomo, so we pulled into the Otorohanga Kiwi House and Bird Sanctuary. I'll admit that it was probably a tourist trap, but we got to see live kiwi. The sanctuary has a 'dark room' were they rotate the kiwi throughout the day. Apparently kiwi are like teenagers and are only up a few hours a day. (like, 3-6). We arrived just before the end of the "first shift", but we were pleasantly surprised by how awake and active the birds were.

The rest of the park was a well maintained bird sanctuary. It was fun to see all the different native and endangered species that call New Zealand home.

Afterward, we headed to the Waitomo Cave Adventure. I booked it after reading about it on another blog (link to come when I return). Our five hour adventure was a lot of fun and a bit scary. We started by abseiling down 27 meters to the cave floor. Apparently I looked like a pro, but honestly my heart was racing a mile a minute.

Next we walked up the river with tubes to a glow-worm cave. Let me add that the walk was not easy. We were walking up a rushing stream. In parts I needed help crossing the river between rock formations.

At this point we put out our head lamps (torches) and let our eyes adjust so we could see the glow worms. Our guide talked about the glow worms, but sadly both Jay and I had trouble hearing him. It was a bit loud down there with the rushing water. Next we tubed down the river. I have never been tubing and was honestly a bit scared. It was dark, the water was moving fast and I had no idea what to expect. Fortunately, my tube didn't flip. A girl flipped her tube and it looked cooold!

Next we ditched our tubes and walked further into the cave. We climbed through small holes, up into caverns and then finally were treated to hot tang and chocolate. The funny thing was, the Australians don't use powdered drinks, so they had no idea what Tang is.

After our sugar rush, we took our time walking back up stream before rock-climbing back up the canyon. After watching our guide, I decided to go first. I knew I had to go before I saw anyone struggle. You may sense a theme here, but my heart was racing! Apparently, the crew below thought I have been climbing for years because I "scurried up the wall like a shot". Got to love that adrenaline!

Overall we had a great time. We loved our little group. The guide even said the water was rough today and we were really good in the areas that were a little more treacherous today due to the rushing water. It was also fun to meet other people on our travels.

For those of you wondering, today I accomplished may "firsts" including abseiling, rock climbing and tubing. Now I feel a little more fearless and thankfully the rest of our adventures shouldn't be soo heart pumping (or so says our new Aussie friend Marisa).