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Trip Report The Waitomo Caves - Travel Report

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Yay! I overcome the Black Odyssey!

Caves: dark, wet, and narrow… I dislike it, I am scared of it! I am slightly claustrophobic and I usually get really uncomfortable in caves, all I want to do is running out. The thought of getting trapped in caves freaks me out, and I remember I got really panic when I was walking in the Gyokusendo limestone cave in Okinawa. I got through it, but I just don’t prefer going into caves again.

I figured everyone has to conquer or overcome something once in a while; Since I was in New Zealand, I participated in a Black Water Rafting tour which is a Waitomo Cave adventure featuring activities like climbing and abseiling through the cave. The company features three types of tours, namely Black Abyss, Black Labyrinth, and Black Odyssey. The first two are more popular and available all year round. I chose the seasonal Black Odyssey, which is a dry, rock climbing tour in the fascinating Ruakuri Cave.

In fact, visitors could enter the caves in a less “adventurous” way. There are guided walking tour available at the visitor center of the Auira Cave. The cave has a built-in suspended walkway for groups of all walks of life and ages except for those who are afraid of darkness. But then I was like, “Well, I want to do something more than that. I drove three hours from Auckland to Waitomo after all”, that’s how I got myself in a climb or no-climb pickle.

All Black Rafting tours take about 3-4 hours which include rock climbing and abseiling through the Ruakuri Cave. For Black Abyss and Black Labyrinth, participants would even get wet water tubing, leaping and rafting through the underground streams in the cave before crawling out to the light. I was a bit nervous before I went underground but then I was carried away by the amazing glowworm show on the vaulted limestone galleries up above.

You are welcome to check out the details about glowworms, and photos of the Waitomo Caves @

Ruakuri Cave stays the same temperature all year round, and it is not the only cave in Waitomo. There are several caves in the area and each of them is owned by different tour operators. However, the nature of these tours is generally the same. We were in good hands by two Black Rafting guides and they gave us excellent commentaries throughout the cave. It was so fascinating and I wonder how the native could explore these challenging terrains in the past without the modern equipment and tools!

The tour provides an overall, helmet and boots for the climb. The site also prepares a hot shower facility for participants after the climb. The Odyssey tour was the newest tour and it was a complete dry tour. The entire tour features flying fox (zip trekking), climbing, walking in heights, abseiling, and climbing in the caves underground, which require some sort of physical stamina and courage. Once we were in the caves we were expected to not only using our hands and feet, but all the body parts to make contact and support ourselves to climb and reach to a high ground or crawl through narrow spaces of the caves. We were provided an overall, helmet, and boots for the climbing experience. We were also hooked by safety ropes which prevented us from free falling if we… fell.

*The Black Odyssey*

There were times that we had to climb through spaces or cracks in between the walkways. Thus, while the walking tours were comfortably enjoying their strolls in the caves, we were creeping behind the cracks and kept ourselves invisible in the dark. It was because we didn’t want to disturb their experience, it would be really scary for some of the “ordinary” visitors to hear noises coming out in the dark while they were walking the dark. Besides, it was for safety reasons that we wouldn’t accidentally kick off rocks during our moves and hit them. It was kind of funny for me about the idea that the walking tour might think they were in the dark alone, while the whole time there were some Spiderman moving around beside them in the caves.

You are welcome to check out the details about glowworms, and photos of the Waitomo Caves @

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