I abseiled in Waitomo last Weekend. And survived.

Last weekend we drove down to Waitomo in King Country to do some caving. Waitomo is a village on the North Island of New Zealand, known for its extensive underground cave systems where thousands of glow worms light up the caves.

And all these years I thought that the Waitomo Caves was one big cave with a few tunnels! Turns out there are quite a few caves in the Waitomo area and several tour companies that offer a variety of activities in the different caves. (Some examples of experiences you can opt for - black water rafting, eco-tours, dry caving, abseiling and tubing.)

We chose to do the Lost World 4 hour tour - and what an awesome experience we had! 
(A 100m abseil and caving adventure in the 'Lost World' cave.) That's me up there.

Before we set off, we were kitted out in all the gear! Paris, here we come! Not. 

However, safety first...

Here's a photo of my boys, before we got going:

Nickie and me, looking the part:

Our mates, Paul and Nickie:

And Luke with their son:

Then it was time to start our adventure...

Walking onto that platform after our very thorough safety practice was quite daunting, I have to admit. 100 metres is a not a short distance! And my preservation gene is strong. So, I got a little quiet up there and was concentrating big-time on my breathing at this point. Haha. (Needless to say, I didn't take the photo below.)

Here we are listening to our awesome guide who was giving us the rundown (note Grant checking out the backup system and just exactly how that platform was being held up there):

A few of us took some nervous looks down (not for the faint-hearted):

And then it was time to take the plunge.

And smile for the camera, while trying to look calm! (Don't we look gorgeous?! Haha.)

And wow, when we lowered ourselves off that platform and started abseiling down that 100 metres into the cave, we marvelled at all that wonder and beauty. It was amazing! (These photos don't do it justice.) It was sensational! It felt like we were 'floating' down the ropes into the cave, surrounded by all the green vegetation growing on the sides of the cave walls, with pretty much only the sound of the Mangapu river flowing down below. Truly spectacular.

It was seriously so surreal down there that I felt like I was on the set of a dinosaur movie and I was half expecting a dinosaur to come rushing out at us! (Okay, I might need help.)

Moving on...

The next part of our caving adventure was pretty strenuous for little unfit me, I have to admit. We walked through the kind of terrain seen above and also had to clamour over lots of big rocks which was pretty difficult at times. (Probably just for me, but I did feel a bit like a big Tellytubby in the overalls, boots and ropes which were restricting my mobility a little.) But it was totally worth the effort because it was such a novel experience to be down at the bottom of that cave, looking up. We also got to see a whole bunch of glow worms.

Then, right towards the end, we had to climb 33 metres up a vertical ladder! And that's when I realised just how unfit I really am! It was a killer. I had to stop a couple of times and just hang on until I got my breath back. 108 wet and muddy rungs to get to the top of that torturous climb. And scary too. You do not want to look down, or up for that matter. But after finishing I must say that I felt rather proud of myself for getting to the top. Geez. Huge achievement right there. (Haha, I sound like quite the wuss because, really, I was all roped up and totally safe the entire time. It's just that being that far up scared me a bit.)

Here we are at the end of the tour - walking out of the cave. 


Big smiles from these boys, after finishing this wonderful adventure:

Such a stunning experience. I would highly recommend doing this tour, but I would suggest being relatively fit before attempting it. (Having said that, I did finish and thoroughly enjoy it despite being very unfit - so it is possible even if you aren't.)

This truly was such a fun and exhilarating experience - one that I will never forget.

Have you ever done something like this? 

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