Welcome to Waitomo Caves, a lovely little village on New Zealand’s North Island. Waitomo Caves is around 3 hours away by car from Auckland if you take the straight road. There are of course scenic routes to get here (e.g. via Raglan) that will easily make the journey from Auckland to Waitomo Caves a 6-hour drive. The word Waitomo comes from the Maori language; ‘wai’ means water and ‘tomo’ means doline or sinkhole. There are three main caves that you can visit in Waitomo Caves: the Waitomo Glowworm Cave, the Ruakuri and the Aranui cave.
Rather than just pleasantly walking and boating around in the Waitomo Glowworm Cave to see the beautiful cave systems with its glowing worms, we thought it’s more fun to do some caving and swimming in super cold water. So we had an early rise this morning to join the Abyss Caving Tour in the Ruakuri Cave. The tour takes around 5 hours in total of which you spent like 3.5 hours in the cave. Once you get to the cave entry and have done a little abseiling exercise, the fun begins. The Abyss Caving entry to the Ruakuri cave is an around 35m hole that is hidden behind trees. Around 10m down it gets quite tight and dark – the moment when you realise ‘yeah, that’s going to be fun’!
Once you arrive down in the cave you are in for cave tubing, whizzing down a flying fox, jumping into water, climbing up waterfalls and squeezing through little holes in the cave system. And, of course, you will see lots of glowing worms. Once you switch off your headlights, everything is 100% dark. You will not be able to see your own hand in front of your eyes. Also, everything is absolutely quiet. There is no noise except water depending where you are in the cave. That’s probably what I liked most – the peacefulness you experience 65m down in the underworld :)
It’s all beginner level and relatively relaxed. If you don’t want to climb up somewhere or don’t feel like jumping into the water, the guides will adjust their tour accordingly. We joined all the activities they proposed which was fun and you get to do lots of different stuff. I wouldn’t have minded though to have done a bit more climbing into separate small cave systems and spent a bit less time in the cold water. Though you do get used to the 7-9 degrees after like 30mins.. Well, I guess I discovered a new hobby to keep an eye open for during the next vacations! Heard there are caves in the Dolomites where you can stay ‘overnight’ – noted down on my travel bucket list!