November 4th, 2017
Today’s adventure started with the Karangahake Gorge Walk. Its was a short easy trek through suspended bridges and old gold mining tunnels. We made buddies, three girls, one from Netherlands, another from Sweden and the last from Switzerland. It was a good morning.
Later that afternoon, we arrived at Waitomo by bus, where we met Kevin, Carolynn, James, another James, Chloe and Lauren. We were all signed up for The Black Abyss which is the five hour tour of Black Water Rafting. Our wonderful guide Nikki, went over some quick rules before stuffing all eight of us into a bus and shipping us to the other side of town, where the adventure would take place.
With all our gear on, we each took a turn and abseiled 35 metres into a cave. From there, we zip lined above the underground river. Here we were sitting together looking at the water beneath us while holding a cup of hot chocolate and cookies Nikki offered us.
After our quick snack, we each were given an inner tube and had to jump off of a platform into the water. Our instructions were to hold the inner tubes behind our bums and land on them. Once we landed in the water we pulled ourselves upstream by latching onto ropes attached to the rocks. When we couldn’t pull anymore we waded through the shoulder level water till we reached an underground rain station, as I (Kisa) called it. Nikki, gave us a brief science lesson and informed us that it was actually decomposing limestone.
From here, we linked our arms and legs together making a human canoe while still resting on our inner tubes. We floated back down the river and eventually reached the place where we first had jumped into the river with the tubes. We then, entered a dark cave. We shut off our headlamps and on top of us there were thousands of glowworms hanging from the cave’s ceiling. It was incredible! With only the glowworm constellation lighting our way, we continued tubing until we reached a section where we had to swim through small rapids and rolling waves in the Ruakuri Caves.
Eventually we came to an exit and crawled out through to a small opening in the rocks. Next we were faced with a succession of challenging climbs through rushing water and we had no harness. I (Sara) had trouble at the first waterfall because I couldn’t lift my one knee high enough but it didn’t hurt as it was numb from being in cold water for such a long period of time. Once at the top, we found another dark tunnel and waterfall to climb. As we approached the last one, the sunlight helped guide us out but not before posing for a photo, of course!
When we finished our black rafting adventure, we washed our gear and had a hot shower. Inside the office, they had bagels and soup for us. Pictures of our journey were up on a screen. Photos on a USB were available for us to purchase as cameras weren’t allowed in. One of the James had a laptop and purchased the USB. The rest of the group gave him four dollars each and he emailed us the photos. Definitely a day to remember!
– Kisa + Sara