Black Water Rafting in Waitomo

Trip Start Aug 12, 2010
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53
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Trip End Sep 23, 2011


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Where I stayed
KiwiPaka Hostel

Flag of New Zealand  , North Island,
Thursday, December 23, 2010



Hello,

The morning after White Water Rafting we left to check out the good ‘ole Kiwi Farm Show and Agroadventures…….yawn!! Just another little stop off to entice you to spend your dollars on the Kiwi Experience. Tom compared it to Marsh Farm. So our morning was spent lazing in the sun, missing the seen-it-all-before-show and Tom entertaining himself with a big plastic dog….idiot!

The bus driver then headed through the Waikato and King Country region to Waitoma (Wai- meaning water, Tomo - meaning cave). This tiny village consists of 60 people, two hostels and one pub...that's it!! However, the old hotel on the hill is apparently haunted and the Queen stayed here during her stay in NZ. Here the local caves are made out of limestone and hidden beneath the countryside. In these caves are the famous glowworms, stalactites, stalagmites, cave coral, fossilised oysters and whale bones; all of which you can’t see as you are in the pitch black. The main way of exploring the caves is to do the legendary Black Water Rafting.

Black Water Rafting consists of weaving, jumping, floating and navigating your way through the glowworm studded world of the Ruakuri Caves. Black Water Rafting is one of NZ’s famous inventions in action sports and is done underground (obviously!). Basically, it involves wearing a wetsuit, as it is freezing, and a caving helmet, complete with headlamp, and sitting on a large rubber tube. Once we were kitted up our guide took us through 60 metre underground caves to jump off waterfalls and ride small rapids, all in pitch black with only thousands of glowworms to guide our way that lit the ceiling like stars. As the water was at such a high height we had to crawl through narrow caverns and at times float near the ceiling of the cave so our noses were almost touching the rocks. This trip was Brilliant! We were lucky to be told it was an ’epic’ day to raft as the day before it had rained heavily so the water was at a perfect height for us. Unfortunately, we have no photos as we couldn’t take pictures….you’ll just have to do it yourselves to believe it.

Love Hollie and Thomas xxx

Now for the boring bit Tom wanted to include about glowworms….…..

Our guide told us that glowworms catch their prey by hanging web-like spindles from the cave roof. The worm glows brightly to attract the attention of anything flying in the caves. As the unsuspecting prey flies towards the light they are tangled up in the thread and hastily eaten. A glow worm glows it’s tail because of bio-luminescence. This is a reaction between the chemicals given off by the glowworm and the oxygen in the air. The chemical reaction produces light which the glowworm can control by reducing the oxygen to the light organ. After the larval stage, lives get grim for the glowworm. Glowworms turn into flys that haven’t evolved a mouth. Without a mouth they cannot feed and die within a die. Therefore, their sole purpose during this stage is to reproduce. So, they have sex for 24 hours then die…what a life! Our guide told us that in essence today we had gone to see a maggot that essentially glows. They call it a glowworm to attract tourists!
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