Yes, black-water rafting, well really, black-water tubing and it was wild.
I think I mentioned in yesterday’s blog that the landscape is now made up of limestone that has been eroded away by water. Rivers have carved their way through it and rain water has seeped through to create erosion from above. And there are these glow worms that live in the caves and along the damp walls of the gorges, which are a huge attraction. You can take a leisurely boat ride through some of the caves to see the glow worms-a very popular activity. Or you can put on a wetsuit and ride through the caves on a different river to see the glow worms, which is what we signed up to do.
Now I was a bit apprehensive about this activity too because I don’t like to be cold and I have trouble regulating my body temperature, but being the good sport that I am I agreed to go. At 9 AM I was wiggling into a cold, wet wetsuit, along with 4 other crazy folks (one being Jim). We were issued helmets with lights on the front and then we were off for the short drive to the river and cave system where we embarked on this adventure.
WOW, amazing, unbelievable, scary, exhilarating, awesome are all words we used to describe our trip through the caves. Sometimes we were walking through a foot of rushing water and other times we sat in the inner tubes and floated along with the current. Twice we had to stand at the brink of a waterfall, put our tube on our butt and jump backward over the falls? One jump was about 2 feet high but the second one was 6 feet! That was the scary part! Sometimes we floated along with our lights out so we could see the thousands of glow worms on the ceiling of the caves. Other times we used our lights to illuminate the walls or to see where we were going. It was one of the most amazing things we have ever done! I tried not to think a out the fact that we were 65 meters below the surface of the land!
When the river finally spit us out of the cave system we were all in awe of what we just did and saw. And yes, I was getting cold! For most of the 1.5 hours we were in the cave and on the water, I wasn’t too cold, adrenalin and anxiety provided some heat! But once we were done, and floating down a tranquil section of the river, in the sunshine, back to the company van, the cold set in. Even after a mostly warm shower, dry clothes and hot soup and a bagel, I was still cold. I had the inner cold and it took almost 2 hours for me to thaw out and start peeling some of my multiple layers off!
We have no photos from our adventure because you couldn’t take a camera with you and the photos the guide took and were for sale weren’t great. But click HERE to go to the website for the company we traveled with. We did the Black Labyrinth tour.
After all this excitement we had kilometers to drive to get near Auckland. Tomorrow we fly to the South Island in the morning, so we are at another Top Ten (brand name) Holiday Park, right near the airport.
We needed some steps so we drove to the Auckland Botanical Gardens and walked around for an hour. It is a lovely place and we enjoyed some of the sculptures as well as the plants and trees that were in bloom. Here is a sample of what we saw.
I am exhausted, shivering and anxiety sapped all my energy so I hope this all makes sense. We are looking forward to going to the South Island and doing some hiking.