As soon as the hangi was over in Rotorua, we headed straight to Waitamo caves. We booked something called the “Lost World Epic” at the caves the following morning.
A short synopsis of the “Lost World Epic” – We dressed up like Japanese factory workers, hiked to a sinkhole, strapped into a harness (mine being so tight, that it cut off all circulation in my legs and had to be readjusted half-way down), abseiled (that’s rapelling for us Americans) 330 feet down into a limestone cave, hiked over huge slippery rocks and streams (all the while having to use our carabiners – which I thought were hooked onto us just for show – to lock ourselves in), saw some glo-worms, pet a friendly cave-dwelling eel, had a snack of chocolate covered marshmallow fish, climbed a rickety 330 foot ladder (in the dark) to get out of the opposite end of the cave, hiked back to the old barn, changed back into street clothes.
This was another tour noted as “good for beginners” and “extreme level: low.” Like I said, maybe Kiwi standards of what is “easy” and “beginner” is totally warped since everyone is so hardcore and extreme in NZ. The abseling was great (except for the strangled legs part), the experience was awesome, but I wouldn’t say it was for beginners. I would say it was more moderate in terms of difficulty level and hardcore factor, but definitely not “leisurely.” We had to double clip into wire ‘handrails’ laced throughout the cave. At first I thought it was just to give us something to do, and then I realized, when perched 50′ above the cave valley on a two inch wide platform, that the carabiners and ropes were there for a reason. They were there so stupid frightened tourists like myself didn’t fall to their deaths and put them out of business.
The worst part of the trip was the 300 foot climb up a slippery ladder, at a 90 degree angle. This required two safety ropes – a primary and a backup…you know, just in case. Besides that stupid ladder, and hiking over rocky terrain in rainboots, everything else about the trip was awesome.
stupid never ending ladder to nowhere
glow worm, unlit
glow worms, lit (this is also what it looked like at the Glow Worm Dell)