Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Raglan then Caving and abseiling in Waitomo Caves!

So the next day we grabbed the bus at 7.40am and met a few extra people we hadn't met yet, it was a pretty fully booked bus so me and Pierrick only managed to score seats at the back but it wasn't too bad.

We then headed straight for Raglan, via a stop in Hamilton to pick up someone and a week stop for us desperate ladies. Then we also stopped off at Bridal Veil Falls a waterfall that looked like, yep you guessed it!

We arrived at one of Stray's 'unique destination' stops at 2pm. There was the option to pay for a surf lesson here but the weather was pretty pants and we both aren't really into surfing so instead we treated ourselves to a double room which was actually pretty cheap (only an extra $4.50 from the price of a dorm bed each).

The hostel here was pretty decent, tons of space, nice rooms, two huge kitchens and in the middle of a forest on top of a hill - totally a hippy surfer place!

So we just had lunch and then went down to the beach with a group from the bus and took in the surf...quite glad we weren't out on those cold choppy waters!

That evening everyone else had signed up for a BBQ but we didn't as we were saving money so cooked our own food. And we are mighty glad we did as everyone said it was rubbish (one steak and sausage, salad and a few potatoes) plus it took til 9pm to cook for 40 of them. So we heard many moans from all the people who were hungry and wished they hadn't paid so much for so little...always best to cook your own food!

Then everyone just chilled down by the outside fire, chatting and drinking. We decided not to drink as there were so many early mornings and buses...a hangover just wouldn't be enjoyable! We also got to see some Glow worms on a walk through the forest when the sun went down which was kinda cool! Like tiny little green fairy lights!

The next day we were up at the crack of dawn again, ready to pack up the bus and we were on our way to an overnight Moari stay in Rotorua. But first stop at 10am was Waitamo Caves, where we had booked a caving and abseiling trip. Though when we got on the bus our driver told us the trip may not run due to there only being us on it. Gaaaaaahhhhh! Everyone else was doing the tubing trip through the caves which wasn't what we wanted and everything else was too expensive so we tried recruiting people on the journey there but to no avail. Once we got there though the company saw we had pre-booked and so they offered us an upgrade onto the most expensive trip...a 100m abseil into the Lost World Cave and a deep caving experience. We couldn't beat that! A tour for $288 that we'd only paid $152 for! This was shaping up to be a good day.

So we literally filled out our form as quickly as possible as our guide had already left but came back to pick us up and we were out the door before anyone else had even paid for their tour! Lol

A stunning 15min drive over rolling green hills later and we were getting our kit on! Our guide was lovely and super funny
 We kitted ourselves out in a caving suit, hard hat with light, boots and our abseiling harnesses and then walked to the start of our 2 hour adventure.

We had to start by learning to use the safety gear on the ropes to stop us from falling. We had to clip ourselves on to ropes as we hiked down to the abseiling platform. Once we got there our guide Craig safety checked all the ropes and equipment and then we began the start of our abseil which was probably the most terrifying part; attaching ourselves to the ropes and sitting on the edge of the platform looking down into the valley/cave. We were with two Japanese people who went first.

We clipped our harnesses onto the ropeals, then swung round with our bums on the metal pole and our toes on the edge of the platform, basically a 100m drop below us. We had to put our right hands on the rope by our right leg...this hand would control our decent. Our left hand was free to do what we wanted. If we wanted to stop or go slower we had to wrap our right leg around the rope and to speed up our decent we had to pull the rope below us upwards. I was so scared I would just plummet to the ground but once we set off I realised that unless you use your hands on the rope to go down, you didn't go very far!

The worst part was taking your feet off the platform and just hovering in the air! Knowing that drop was below you was scary as!

But once we set off it was OK. Though my harness I quickly discovered was way too tight and it began to cut my circulation off in my legs so our guide gave me a rope to use as a platform to put my feet on so it didn't cut in as much. Then Pierrick went and got his beard caught in the rope contraption so he almost lost a patch of beard. And almost cried from the pain of having to rip it out!

Once these minor things had passed we began to enjoy it but once you got halfway it was harder to control your speed as you went faster so I got a little panicked but then managed to figure out a way to control it better!

Everyone's legs began to get quite painful from the harnesses so the last 20m we had to descend quite quickly. But the cave opened up like a magically land in front of us. It was all misty and magical and stunning!

Once we got to the bottom it was time for the caving part! Hiking into the cave was a challenge physically especially with my height as the boulders were huge! But we went through and took some pictures, went into a cave where we turned off our lights and saw some Glow worms. We found out that Glow worms are actually Lava (maggots) that poo in strings and send out a light that draws other insects into their poo strings. The strings paralyse their dinner and they eat them. The Lava grow a cocoon and hatch into little Knat flies that have no eyes and mouth and so only live 3 days - their main goal is to mate. The females lay eggs which then hatch into the Glow worms who eat their brothers and sisters and so the cycle continues... Interesting stuff!

We then caved a bit more and came to our ascent...which was a fecking huge ladder - 30metres sheer vertical terrorising ladder in a dark cold cave, which we had to climb one at a time. I had a little panic before going up and I had a huge panic while going up lol! It was a huge mental challenge for me and a huge physical one too! The ladder was cold, wet and gritty and not only did it hurt your hands, but it hurt your arms, your mental ability...

But after what seemed like a very long time, I made it to the top, by breathing, telling myself I could do it, and not looking down or up! Once we made it up we then had some more caving to do before reaching the open air. It was an awesome experience and it was an amazing personal accomplishment! Not only the abseiling but the caving as well!

We then headed back, took off our gear and back to the bus it was...then it was onwards for 2hours to our Maori cultural stay in Mourea! 

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