Day 30 on the Road
Caving in the Waitomo Caves with The Legendary Black Water Rafting Company
It’s one whole month into New Zealand’s BIGGEST Gap Year and today’s activity is caving in Waitomo with Black Water Rafting!
Today we are doing different sort of tour in the Waitomo Caves. We’re going to be doing some caving and climbing but this time you’re not getting the water. We are staying dry. It’s called the Black Odyssey and basically it’s a climbing journey through the cave.
We want to do something cool in Waitomo but not get absolutely drenched. There is actually a tour for that, the Black Odyssey. before we suit up, we are asked to crawl through this tiny space to see how we deal with claustrophobia. Matt seems fine with what we’ve done so now we’re going to go get suited up with the jumpsuits. We suit up in a beautiful white gumboots and gorgeous red overalls. Laura’s one has a massive hole in the bum which makes it even more hilarious. Just behind a couple of stalactites and behind a couple of columns there is a training area. We’ve got two clips attached to us at all times we’re going to always clipped onto some ropes so in the training section we’re just practicing using these clips. The design is that it clips using magnets. the end of each rope there’s a little metal section and you use that to clip on and off different ropes. they’re actually a little tricky to get used to at the beginning because I feel like the magnet is not working and I’m like: “GRRRR” and I’m shaking it so much but you just shake it lightly and it just finds the right angle and then it clips on easily.
And the tour starts by a climb through a very narrow passage so I really don’t know how we’re going to fit there but Matt is, sorry Matt, much bigger than me but he’s passing through like really quickly in like the twisting motion of the eel that he probably see too many of down those caves. then he’s already all the way at the end of the tunnel, so I’m like Ok, if Matt’s doing it, it’s going to work right? Robin’s falling to his death.
I know what I’m doing, I’m like a little weta. I’m just crawling on the side of the walls and I’m having fun.
We’re climbing our way up. You have to really concentrate while you’re doing this because you know there’s a long drop underneath you. You have to figure out if you’re going to put your left foot somewhere or your right foot somewhere and sort of plan the route ahead before you do it, so there’s a lot of actual thinking involved which makes it a little bit more challenging. You can be the fattest, you can be the thinnest, you can be tallest, you can be the smallest, you can be the strongest, you can be the weakest, you can still climb your way through a cave it’s just knowing which route is best and which route is going to suit you the best, so yeah, there’s a lot of thinking and preparing ahead of what you’re doing and that makes it challenging in itself. And this is what makes it [caving in Waitomo] so much different from the Black Water Rafting. This is a whole different experience in itself so if you want to do some climbing in the [Waitomo] caves this is the tour you should be doing.
And also in our group we have four other people joining us today. There is girl called Steph, there is a girl called Kate, there is a guy called Ben then there is a a girl called Bex. That’s basically the team that we have. Awesome! People to mingle with.
We’re moving a lot, it’s a lot of exercise on the arms and in the legs and everything. It’s not like really hard one it’s not really hard exercise it’s just a lot of it. So you kind of keep really warm so if you’re scared of getting cold or anything that may be a really good option as a tour.
So yeah, so clipping, clipping and clipping and clipping and clipping and just, you know, climbing all the way. It’s pretty challenging honestly, it’s pretty tough we start climbing on the cliff so we’re right on the cliff and we’re just like holding onto a rope and we put our feet wherever we can. And you can see it’s pretty high right here. You know what I mean? There is easily like 30 metres down us which, you know, ahhhhh!
A thing about Robin is he is afraid of heights like majorly and I haven’t yet seen what this fear looks like when it is facing him or he is facing it but I have never seen fear in someone’s face quite like what I do today on this Black Odyssey tour. And there is a lot of high places and yeah, it’s pretty scary stuff. It’s not a light tour – not for the feint-hearted. We arrive on another cliff. It’s stunning but I can feel the height so we climb along the cliff where I literally can’t understand where to put my feet and I’m holding onto the rope and my feet are like slipping on the cliff and I’m aw aw aw aw. Oh my God. I mean, it’s really weird as a feeling to be that scared and have that much fun. I love the challenge I really loved it but Goddamn I was scared. So when we get to eh top of this narrow gap we do a bit of a scrambling along the cave. God knows where we are right now. And we get to an abseil. I haven’t done an abseil in a while but luckily the guides just put the abseil on our safety harnesses for us and tell us to keep our arms behind us and slowly feed your way down which is pretty easy. Yeah, it’s pretty fun. It’s a quick abseil down and another cool like obstacle aspect. We’ve just moved up a notch here. We’ve moved onto phase two: we are abseiling down the cave so that’s really cool. And obviously, Matt’s taking photos of this moment and robin is shitting himself which is fantastic. After this whole sort of training section we’ve done – all the climbing through the caves which was good to get used to the equipment before we do the harder stuff then after the abseiling we are moving onto phase three of the Black Odyssey which involves all sorts of different obstacles now. There’s like a swing, there’s ladders, there’s tight ropes, there’s more climbing above really high ledges and stuff. Oh my God, there’s like this is the shit. This is the shit we’re about to do. We can’t help but notice there is a huge drop just behind us and the rope are on the cave edge just where this huge drop is. While we are up there we notice the people from the Black Labyrinth tour are way below us floating in there rubber rings that’s the tour we did the other day. We are metres and metres and metres and metres and more metres above the cave floor and the stream below so this next section is going to be so high up and it’s going to be really cool and it’s going to be the next part of our caving adventure which is going to be awesome.
then we notice at the end of this section there is a ladder going right across the cavern and there’s a huge drop underneath it. It looks like a very precarious ladder. We go over the ladder very slowly one at a time because this ladder is wobbly. I get across Ok, I just like look one step ahead. don’t look down just look one step ahead. I glance around to see how Robin’s doing and he is petrified. This is the point where I see what fear looks like in someone’s eyes. I’m actually having a lot of fun. it is much harder than what I thought and yeah, I’m having a hard time in my head managing my healthy feat of heights let’s make it clear it’s a healthy fear of heights. So yeah, I’m having a hard time managing that and doing the actions and everything but you know every single time I raise my head I see Matt 10 metres ahead already. You know, it’s like this guy is like half man half goat, you know like dom dom dom. He’s already on the other side of the cave and I’m trying to catch up. There is a few parts you actually have to step quite far. You know, it’s like something yay big and we have to step and Matt’s like no worries, you’re attached, just jump. this is literally like in between the two cliffs of the cave. I mean, like I’m jumping from one building to another. It’s like oh yeah take this like 30-story building over there and jump from one to the other you’ll be fine you’re attached. You’re scared you are that’s normal! It’s ok, I mean I did it. I survived.
He wouldn’t even look at my face because he was in his own little world of fear. I mean, I don’t like to see people scared really because I know that feeling scared isn’t a nice feeling but then I remembered what he did to me in the Ruakuri Cave the other day and he scared me shitless and he did not care, so help him along his way I was wobbling some of the ropes to make him more scared. To make him think oh shit he’s going to fall. So yeah, screw you Robin.
How was that?