the real one
WARNING - mucho text below. lazy arses, look away now
[We arrived about 12 and a kind man called Bill, who ran the local shuttle company, told us that it had pissed down the night before and we should check to see if our underground caving would be going ahead (sometimes the water gets perilously high and the underground caving is cancelled due to dangerously high water levels because the water is so high and then the caves get flooded and it is perilous to go underground due to the high water levels.. ) Ahahah I jest - I’m sure you get the message!)
So we rang the caving company and were told that it was still going ahead – which is good as there is feck all to do in Otorahanga if you’re not going caving. Woohoo. We slowfooted it to our hostel (we are carrying at least 20 kilos each) and checked in to a very cute hostel (in a type of caravan stylee house – I think we were practically the only guests) and then we hit ‘the town’ for some lunch.
After lunch we were picked up by Bill (the aforementioned shuttle dude – about 60 years old) and chauffered to the Waitomo Caves. We were a bit early though so Bill brought us right up to the door, introduced us to the checkout girl, got our passes for us and then brought us back to the cab and drove us down the road to the Waitomo Caves Museum. He said that it would be closed by the time we would be finished our underground caving adventure (approximately three hours) and that it was defo worth seeing. He also arranged for us to be picked up outside the museum a few minutes before our caving adventure was about to start!! (in the words of a Red Dwarfian – “What A Guy” [ paul Kenny may be the only one who gets that quote apart from jimbob). He really was like our dad. (no offence Dads!)
We were picked up by a young fellow (I hoped our underground guides would be a tad older – how old am I??> in a van who brought us back to the check in desk. We checked in and I whipped out our “FREE MUFFIN” voucher that I had cut out of a magazine – (GRANNY LOOKOUT !! ) We got our free muffins (SCORE!!) and headed out the back with our three (young) guides to don our wetsuits (Jim’s second in two days – does he have a fetish??) he he
We looked spectacular! I doubt anyone there looked as good as us!! – See pics. Tee hee hee.
There was about ten of us in our group and three guides. There was one dad – an English fellow and his son who were a good bit of craic, two French dudes who were quite funny and a couple of couples (one girl was so funny – she got trapped in the seatbelt of the van).
So off we piled in the van in our ridiculous suits and we were brought to the bank of the river.
We were all given a rubber tyre and told to practice sticking our butt into the middle of it. Then we were shown to the river bank. There was a little platform above the river that we were all brought to the edge of one by one, then the small guide showed us how to jump off the platform BACKWARDS with our butts tucked into the inside of the tyre. Holy Moly. He he. I was morto at having to be the first bird off the edge, couple that with the get up that you see in the pics below. He he. Anywho I took a deep breath and launched myself backwards off the platform. The water was F u c k I n F r e e z I n….. he he. It went up my nose and into my mouth and all over my head. ARRrRRGGh. It was aboot 12 degrees I’d say – FRESH! FRESH, EXCITING.. hee hee.
So we all did this one by one, then it was back into the van and off we went to the cave entrance. Once inside the mouth of the cave, we all played a little game of ‘introducing ourselves and our favourite food’ (random & weird) so that our eyes could adjust to the darkness of the caves. Then off we went wading through the caves. The water was freezing and varied from knee deep to chin deep (for me – for Jim it was only chest deep). It was pitch black in the cave except for a) our mini headlamps on our helmets and b) the millions of tiny glowworms that shone bright luminous green on the ceiling of the caves. They were so cool – we turned our headlamps on and off at different stages throughout our cave adventure and followed the luminous glow downstream. It was cool - the whole place lit up only by tiny little larvae. Sweeeeet..
So anywho, we waded through caves that were so low, the roof was only inches from our faces – whereby we had to sit in the tyre and lay right back to fit under them - to really high caves where the roof was nearly 65 metres above our heads. Some times the guides told us to sit in the tyre and float downstream, others we had to wade through the fast-flowing water with the tyre above our heads and then we came to the waterfalls! At the waterfalls, (i.e – where one cave ended and another cave began – except lower down) we were led to the edge of the higher cave, told to turn around, stick our arses through the tyre and leap backwards into the water – as we’d done in our practice run at the river. It was pretty difficult to even get to the edge of the top cave as the water was gushing by our feet so fast and with immense power (no slags please at my descriptive language JAMES). So anyway the first waterfall jump was cool. At the second one, I jumped in and landed in my tyre only to be swiftly bumped back out again. Arrggh.. I’m gonna drownnnnnn – oh ok.. I can stand up here.. he he. But it was still scary.
So at the third and biggest waterfall, we were all a bit nervous. Even more so, when we spotted the English Dad on his way down. He totally ignored all advice to keep in along the edge of the cave and wandered out into the middle of the cave. Immediately the gushing water took him off his feet and catapulted him over the side. All we could see was his goofy boots in the air as he nearly kicked the guide in the face and went headfirst over the edge. It was hilarious… once we found out he was ok! So we were all a bit twitchy going down that one. The underground caving was hella cool. It was dark, freezing and all lit up by tiny green bugs.
James said to remind me to put in how the guys did a quiz on gloworms and because we had visited the cave museum before the caving adventure, we knew all the answers and were real brainiacs!
We were also told that there were eels, rats, and horrible shellfish type stuff in the waterall of which made us even more nervous – well we weren’t nervous at all until we saw all the gross stuff that is in the water in the museum before we went to the caves. Anywho our scary underground adventure was quite hilarious, and well worth it. Our guides were young and friendly and very helpful, even when our legs were too cold to move. After an hour, we were all absolutely freezing – I don’t know how the lads do it everyday – I also have no idea how anyone could stay in there for more than an hour (there are many three and four and even seven hour underground caving trips). Eekazoids.
Towards the end, we all floated out to the exit of the cave and then floated back up the river. At the river platform, all the lads started to jump off the platform doing sumersaults and twists in the air trying to land in their tubes in the water. Jimbob did one first and missed the tube, it was kinda funny. Then on his second go, he did a big whopper of a twist and landed right in the tube. He was hella cool – I was mega pround. GEW ON DEE OIRISH.. hee hee. I didn’t say that outloud – don’t worry.
So then it was back to the van and off with our mega cool suits. Thanks be to jaysus. The yokes were so cold. We all had hot showers and went back to the hut for some hot soup and bagels. EXCEPT – who was waiting for us at reception – only Bill the Shuttle Guy. You see, the last shuttle was at 5.45 pm and there is no bus or any way of getting back to Otorohanga after that time without ordering a taxi which costs nearly 28 bucks. So didn’t Bill only come back and wait for us. What A Guy!!
So we got our soup to take away and got back into ‘Dad’s’ car and were chauffered home again. He also said we were welcome to go into the local club, use his name – i.e. say we were friend’s of Bill’s the great taximan, and avail of his discount on food in the club! Holy Moly! WHAT A GUY!!
Hee hee – we were a bit pooped and decided to get some bread & tuna and head for the hills. We headed back to our hostel – which was empty apart from us - and watched some lethal weapon two on VIDEO. Tee hee.
Jimbob fell asleep on the couch – all the watersports must be taking their toll on him. Lol.
Caving was cool :o)