Day 31 on the Road
The Black Abyss Cave Tour in Waitomo with Black Water Rafting!
It’s Day 31 on New Zealand’s BIGGEST Gap Year and today we’re going black water rafting on the Black Abyss Cave Tour in Waitomo!
Today is one of the most epic days that we will have in New Zealand. We’re doing Black Water Rafting! You’ve seen what is Black Labyrinth, with it’s tubing along the caves and under the glowworms, you’ve seen what is Black Odyssey with abseiling and flying foxes. Well Black Abyss is a mix of the both in an epic journey through the caves.
So we put on our helmets and all the gear that we need and we are ready to go. The tour starts with a little bit of training where Emilie, which is going to be our second guide, teaches us how to abseil. So she shows us how to use this weird clip that we have. Once we get a hang of the training, me and Robin decide to race each other. Go!Because Robin is heavier than me, he gets down to the bottom of the abseil training section before me – that is the only reason why he wins. It is nothing to do with skill just to make that clear. So training is finished, we are ready to go. Laura is going down the hole first. We know how to abseil now, we’ve had the training. It’s time to do this 35 metre abseil so Emz is at the top strapping us up, double checking that we are all safe and secure. She says sit down and in that moment for some reason I’m kind of like awwww like freaking out. I’m a bit scared about what’s about to occur here. So… I lean back and let myself hang and Emz is like helping me. There’s not much to it – just don’t hold onto the rope too tight or you’ll get rope burn and then you just slowly glide your way down at your own pace. It’s like being swallowed up by a rock and the rock’s actually getting thinner. This part of the rock is called the throat cos it’s like a throat. So we get down to the bottom and Logan is like woop! Well done! And then we’re now waiting for Robin to come down. Ahh, my balls. Damn it’s tight. I’m not looking. Hello?
And when he gets to the bottom, his hands are just shaking. Right now you have to follow this little line right here into the black and we’re going to clip you onto something and then all you need to do is scream.
We start our journey through the cave. A couple of narrow passages then we arrive at the biggest flying fox in the caves that I have ever seen in my life. It’s ridiculous. It’s really long and basically I can’t see where I’m going because it’s that long. man, It’s actually a lot of fun. it was really cool. You just strap in and you ziplining down into the unknown. All we have is our torch lights and they switch all the other lights off so we have no idea what we are ziplining into right now. But that’s all the fun of it. There’s a lot of black water rafting tubes about so we must have to jump in the water from here. We have a huge jump to do. You don’t really think you can screw this sort of thing up. I mean you just jump feet first, holding onto your rubber ring but… She wasn’t holding her tube. The very thing that’s going to keep her alive and she let it go. So we’re told by our guides that actually when the water level is this high this is where the fun starts. This is where the water level is high enough to have some crazy black water rafting which is what we are in for today. Chocolate or the camera? Chocolate.
So Logan has a backpack and I have a backpack. laura doesn’t have a backpack because we didn’t need to carry that many things and off we go. There is quite a few sections where we’re going to get off the tube and start walking or kind of running in the water to warm up we did float with and without the tubes. You know, depending on what section we were on. And we arrive down a little area where there are a massive amount of glowworms. You know we’ve been to all the other caves with a lot of glowworms but this one is by far my favourite.
So we’re running through. We’re getting a little bit cold so we just keep moving to keep the energy up and get our blood pumping and be warm and then we get to a point where apparently there’s a slide underneath a waterfall which we can barely see until we look over. Logan says to us ” I would recommend the safest way to do this is to go feet first. And this is the second time I screw up my black water rafting capabilities. It’s safer to go feet first waaaa. Once the current had me I was like… I had to just go with it. Do you want anymore safety briefings so you can do it the other way? this was one of the funniest things I have seen in years. And then next, we are making our way downstream now the current has picked up quite a bit, like I said, because the water level is a lot higher and we are floating downstream real real real real fast. Now we don’t have the tube anymore because we left them somewhere. I don’t know I can’t remember right now what we’ve done with the tube but we left them about five minutes ago somewhere so Logan is just going in the water putting his feet up and saying no matter what you’re doing to float just go. And up we’re just going down there and we’re just floating. Wooooo. So laura is just behind me trying to pass me like you know kind of like always a bit of a competition right here. And yeah, going through the cave network like that kind of floating. It’s one of the advantage to have that much water in the cave is that basically almost every section can be floated instead of walked through. One of the disadvantage is that you become lazy and you don’t move enough and you may get cold but yeah, we’re not really lazy we always compete.
Then there are a lot of sections where we need to scramble our way through the water. it’s like a lot of rapids going on, high water level as I’ve said a million times so yeah, I’m just floating down the water, scrambling over the rapids. It’s quite tough but managed to it and it’s really fun just lolloping about in the water. And then we get to section where Logan stops us and he says right everything we’ve done today has been in that much of the cave. Entrance. Exit. We are here. Except, we’ve got this to do. So we’re going through there and we’re going up. there are three waterfalls and you can’t see or hear anything but the crashing water. and of course, like, right behind him we can hear the gushing of the waterfall and we understand like that water is going to be pretty intense today. So we crawl through a tiny little space just like squeezing. you can’t believe your doing it really, you’re just like What am i doing? why am I here in this cave squeezing through the smallest spaces? And the water level is like massively high and oh well, that’s New Zealand. Hold your breath and duck under into the next room. What? No! I was like what the… We’re going to climb…. Oh my Gosh, what where are we going? And we’re literally going to climb through the waterfall and into a small chamber there is almost no place you can actually see where you’re going so if this guy is not here we have no idea how to get home. So it’s pretty epic. He’s kind of holding onto both sides of the waterfall and says “put your feet here, put your feet there, put your hand here, put your hand there, pull forward.” then it’s kind of like huffing and pushing and telling you where to put the feet and what to do that. “Pull the legs, pull, push, tight, do this, do that.” I mean, if you’ve ever been to boot camp, don’t try boot camp with Logan because literally what we’re doing right now. “Go harder, push challenge yourself, go here.”And he’s like yelling at you because obviously it’s the middle of a massive waterfall so it’s like…. “push harder, pull on your arm, push on your leg.” He’s giving you very specific instructions and you know if you’re not doing it you’re hurting yourself because with this amount of water you let go you’re falling down you fall on Logan, Logan fall on Laura and everybody gets hurt. I can seee..
Probably the craziest section of the whole [cave] tour is getting up these waterfalls. There’s a final tunnel until we get to daylight. We can see daylight just int he corner and Logan goes up ahead and turns round to watch us coming toward him and all the rapids.. we’re just fighting rapids to get out of the water and then finally we emerge back into daylight once again. Yeah, back into the forest, back into daylight. Just like: hurrr. That was madness. That was crazy. That was so cool.