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Sunday, November 14, 2010

Craving for Caving

 "Mom?! Dad?!... I love you... "  I pretended to call home before checking in for a spectacular underground adventure.  My new friend Catherine and I drove to Waitomo on Saturday morning to go caving in a way I've never caved before.
Signing up for the 1:30 pm Black Labyrinth tour with the Black Water Rafting Co, we made our way to the outfitting area where we were eyed for size and given wet suit socks, overalls, jackets, rubber boots and a helmet.  All of the equipment was wet and cold and chore to put on.
11 of us were heading out for a SWEET tour... with outfits that were extremely tight.  I felt like a moon walker as I hopped on to the tour bus to ride 10 minutes over to Ruakuri cave.  Finding a rubber tube that fit each of our bodies, we took them to the rivers edge for a little education on backward jumping over waterfalls and collecting as a group.
Having no fear of the cold water I volunteered to jump first from the pier into the water.  After we were all done our practise round, we reloaded the bus and drove another five minutes and then walked to the edge of the cave.  It was seriously a hole in the ground, covered with greenery.  Originally found because of two wild dogs hiding there.  We took our tubes in to the deep hole, turned on our headlamps and got accustomed to the darkness.
Here we are gathered as a group, getting ready to tube through the cave.  I followed one of our guides to the waters edge where a 1.5 foot long eel was awaiting.  The guide greeted him, slightly pushed it away so that I could step in to the shallow waters and plop in to my tube.  Not the easiest thought... to tube in freezing cold waters, knowing that eels are gliding below my butt.
For an hour we either tubed or slowly walked through shallow rocky waters.  We learned to trust each other and appreciate nature.  But the coolest part were the GLOWWORMS that hung from the ceiling like stars on a cloudless sky.  With out lamps turned off we slowly felt our way through narrow passages, following the light of the glowworms alone.
Glowworms are Arachnocampa Luminosa.  In other words: (the words of our tour guide)... they are cannibalistic shagging mucous maggots that glow in the dark by their own will.  :)
This adventure caving was superbly phenomenal in my opinion!!  Arriving back at the outfitters lodge, we unstripped ourselves of our caving gear, showered in our bathing togs, dried off, redressed, and headed inside for a warm cup of soup and toasted bagel.
O ya, while I was sipping my soup there was a voice behind me, asking "So, did you have a good time in the Labyrinth."  I recognized that voice as my friend Roman from the Rangitoto volcano hike.  What do you know... we caught up again, and hung out a little bit more in the evening!  It's a small world out here.
Catherine and I weren't done with our journey through creation though.  We decided to hike a trail during the day that went through a few minor tunnels, crossed bridges over major caves, and admired the trees.

              This is my new pal Catherine!
The mossy look makes me smile with delight every time.
Since I was a small girl... going on family vacations, I have loved spelunking!
The famous New Zealand Koru
Don't worry Dad, I'm only having 5 minutes of fun.
After hiking we went through another fun drive around the surrounding countryside.  In the distance you will see our hotel for the evening.  It is a very colonial building, with old rooms and victorian carpeting.
Catherine and I spent the night at the Waitomo Caves Hotel.
I felt like a hobbit when I found the doorknob to our room to be at eye level.
After munching down on our free continental breakfast, we drove a few minutes up the road to the Waitomo Caves for a completely different experience.  Huge caverns to walk through, with a different and more descript picture of the famous glowworms.  This cave tour was completely with a ten minute boat ride done in complete darkness and silence.  Our boat guide pulled on ropes to lead us through massive caverns of glowing maggots.
Still not feeling like our journey with the caves was done, Aranui Caves was also on our list of to do's.  I don't normally skip church on Sunday mornings, but spending time with God in His Creation was fulfilling for me.  His glory was proclaimed in every corner.
Stalactites and Stalagmites are a very patient form of growth.  The last cave that we went through was awesome for a completely different reason.  The patterns and stories in the stones were a lot more intricate than the massive caverns that held the glowworms.
We left Waitomo around noon... made a quick rest stop by the famous Kiwi House and headed back to Auckland for a 2 pm rest.
Sunday evening was my last opportunity to attend house church.  It was a true blessing to fellowship with God's people.  We shared a potluck meal and finished with discussing the Sermon on the Mount.  I love being with God's people, no matter where in the world I am. 

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