ruakuri-cave

Travelogue Day 7

So we woke up to a chilly Saturday morning in Waitomo. Which Narita showed us around her farm and let us fed the lamb, chicken, birds and errr pigs?HAHA

Right after that, we hurriedly went to Waitomo Gloworm Caves since we’ve pre-booked the ticket for the 9am tours. As we arrived, the tour guide brought us to the Ruakuri Cave also known as The Dent of Dogs.

Since it’s a cave, of course it was dark and chilly, we literally walk down to 70m deep. The formation of stalactite and stalagmite was amazingly beautiful. 

Narita was very nice! Love her!

The farmstay in waitomo

The entrance of Ruakuri Cave

After we’ve finished the touring within ruakuri cave, we went back to the Waitomo gloworm cave which, we witnessed a glow worm glowing, sadly , we can’t snap any picture of it, but it was splendidly beautiful. AllahuakhbarThe architecture of this place is simply amazing

Right after that, we make our move to Matamata, Hobbiton!

our tour guide, James , Arina insisted that he’s a Kiwi, so yes! He’s a Kiwi

so James showed us each and every of the rabbit holes there. Since I’m not an avid van of LOTR and Hobbiton, I haven’t watch any of the movies yet. Sorry guys. But hey, atleast I tried to know about it right. So, James told us about the USD800k tree above Frodo’s house, which each of the leaves were handstictched since they wanted to make it looks real.

Next is the party tree, to all fans, the tree were no longer growing, it’s dying.

 

Before the touring ends, every tourist we’re given a freshment each, there’s 3 types of beer and one non-alcoholic drink, that is Ginger beer -.-

Kalau bagi Ginger Beer gelas kecik takpe, ni gelas bapak penih pulak tu. Tak ke semput nak menghabiskan?HAHA

Okay, lepas habis pusing Matamata, we made our way back to Auckland, since our flight back home is in the next morning. Singgah Hamilton jap for dinner at the Indian restaurant. Don’t worry it’s halal since the supplier is a Muslim Malaysian.

Ofcourse another night in the airport.

Conclusion : It was a really nice short sweet retreat to the land of Kiwi’s with it’s most friendly citizens breathtakingly beautiful scenery and chilly weather.  Will definitely come back here. Insha Allah. Thanks New Zealand for the beautiful memory! <3

4

From Hot Water Beach we headed for Waitomo, with a short stop in Paeroa where we all bought a bottle of L&P (Lemon and Paeroa). L&P is a fizzy drink all over New Zealand, that strangely hasn’t made it anywhere else, yet due to its popularity here it was bought out by Coke. It was just lemonade with a hint of caramel made by a man in Paeroa and sold outside his house, but i’ve gotta say, it’s good.

Anyway, we carried on to Waitomo, where we were going black water rafting! This was another activity we had paid for when we first bought the bus ticket, which I am really glad we did as we don’t have to keep thinking about saving money for activities we might want to do. We all went to check in with the black water rafting company before going to our hostel (a very dirty smelly YHA), and the rafters came to pick us up at different times for our tours. We were doing a 3 hour wet tour, and were in a group with 2 other couples and 2 german girls from the kiwi bus.

When we got to the rafting company we were given wet suits, helmets and boots and all went to get changed and struggle to pull them on. They were all already wet and cold from previous tours, which didn’t make it easier, but once we all had our kit on we took a photo and hopped into the bus down to the river. At the river were our ‘rafts’, which were really just tyre tubes, and 2 platforms. Our guides helped us pick the right size tubes before taking us over to the platforms into the river and telling us this was a test to make sure we weren’t scared to jump off backwards into our tube. This was whilst they were stood on the highest platform, and we all stood there thinking 'is this really going to work?’. We did then move down to the lower platform and stood with our backs to the water, the ring on our bum, and had to jump and kick your legs up to land in it. IT WAS COLD. And warmer than what was to come.

As we walked down into the forest towards the entrance to the Ruakuri cave our guides told us horror stories of how it was named and the rabid dogs and big black eels that live there. We then approached what looked like a tiny hole and proceded to climb into the darkness.

After that I can’t really explain what happened. A serious of holes, waterfalls, jumps and glow worms filled the next 3 hours. I can however tell you the worst and best highlights.
Worst: entering the cave and seeing a huge black eel (wasn’t just a story after all), so having to divert through a tiny gap where your bum touched the floor in the tube, and your helmet scraped along the ceiling. Also when your guides make you turn off your helmet light and say find the exit. I did not enjoy that, even if me and Helena could not stop bumping into each other and laughing.
Best: creating an eel with all of the tubes linked together, turning out lights out and being pulled through a long cave of glow worms. It looked like the sky on a really starry night.
Eating a chocolate marshmellow fish in a tiny cave halfway, whilst our guides explained that the glowing part of the worm is actually their shit.
Jumping off all the waterfalls!

After all our caving excitement, most of the bus went to the pub to celebrate survival. It was pub quiz night, which all the locals took very seriously, whilst we loudly talked over them. It was nice to talk to everyone and find other people on the bus on the working visa too, but as a bonus I also made friends with the pub cat and a baby bird. Crazy animal lady forever

10

Les grottes de Waitomo, entre stalactites et vers luisants

Arrivés à Waitomo nous descendons sous terre parcourir les galeries de la grotte de Ruakuri. Nous empruntons un escalier “galactique” de 15m. Nous nous engouffrons dans un tunnel digne des bunkers soviétiques. Puis nous débouchons dans les grottes aux formations étonnantes. Il ne faut pas être claustrophobe ! Nous traversons plusieurs galeries et d'impressionnantes cathédrales de calcaire. Puis, nous découvrons enfin les vers luisants. Lorsque notre guide éteint sa torche, des dizaines de vers luisants font briller le plafond comme la voie lactée. Ensuite, en braquant sa torche sur certaines parois, il nous révèle les filaments qu'ils tissent pour capturer leur nourriture. La plupart sont perlées d'eau. C'est féerique ! Après une bonne heure d'excursion, nous ressortons à la surface éblouis par le soleil. Nous passons la soirée au calme dans le van, avant d'arriver dans la cosmopolite Auckland.

"Why does it sound like you're in Japan?"

I was giving my mum updates on where I was in the North Island and she texts me back wondering if I flew over to Japan instead. She said that all the places I’ve told her that we’ve been driving to have sounded Japanese to her.

Anyways, Day 4: Waitomo and Rotorua!

Because I am an accident prone, I decided that I didn’t want to go tubing in the glow worm caves since I wouldn’t be able to wear my glasses and it’s pretty dark in the cave. Although, I would have liked to go tubing, I thought it would be safer not just for me, but also for others if I wasn’t part of their adventure. I am just a liability in the making!

So instead, I took two cave tours. The first in the Ruakuri Cave, which is Māori that literally translates to “two dogs”. A (very) brief background to why it’s named Ruakuri Cave is because the Māori people chased after two dogs, which had attacked them, into the cave that they were hiding in. Ok, back to cave tour! I was really fascinated with all the limestone and the how do you say? The way it was all created and such. Sorry, my English & thought process isn’t currently working. I was really tempted to touch it, but the signs says DO NOT TOUCH CAVE! Not so much in those words exactly, but still. Anways, there were so many glow worms which I couldn’t take a photo of because the light would kill them. 

My second tour was in the Waitomo Glow Worm Cave. Here I couldn’t really take any photos. It wasn’t allowed. Although, I was allowed to take photos at the end of the boat ride. In this cave there was much more glow worms. It was like a starry night!

At the end of my tour, I met up again with the people I was road tripping with, and we were off to Rotorua! I have to say, New Zealand has fun playgrounds. Why don’t we have them in the States? The rest of our day consisted of seeing a bit of geothermal stuff, being children at the playground, having an amazing Tex-Mex dinner, and of course, smelling the sulfur Rotorua has to give us :)

This made me more dizzy and I couldn’t stop spinning plus the fact that I was already a bit car sick previous to this. And then there was this obstacle…

8

Day 43- A sky of glow worms

Our coach full of hungover bodies pulled into delightful little Waitomo. The first thing to do was sign in for Black water rafting. Yep, not white, black. This is like white water rafting, but instead of being in a stream it’s within the dark and narrow Ruakuri caves. We hesitantly lined up to pay for “Black Labyrinth”, handing over near to $100. Once you’ve paid, you can’t back out.

With time to kill back at the hostel Savannah and I decide to try to plan out our bus route and stops around this country’s two islands. A job that should take us 20 minutes ended up taking us an hour and a half. We’d plan it all, then realised we had missed a weekend. We’d plan it all again, then realised we were using a 2014 calendar. Problems still occurred as we realised we couldn’t do the dates we had planned if we wanted to catch our flight home. Our first hiccup of our trip, for two overly organised planning freaks, was a major disaster. Two cups of coffee later, shaking hands and we hadn’t solved our problems. We discarded the plan to change into our bikinis. It was time to take on rapids for 3 hours underground in the middle of one of New Zealand’s coldest winters.

Cold. Cold was a theme of this day. We are first handed cold and dripping wetsuits. When it’s 6 degrees outside and already 5pm, it’s very unpleasant to slide into a freezing cold wetsuit. Well, everyone else slid into their wetsuit. I on the other hand could just step in. Maybe it was my puffa jacket, but I had been given a wetsuit two sizes too big. Add a hole in the back of my wet suit into the equation, and there really isn’t much point in me wearing it anymore. “My wetsuits too big” “it looks alright babe LETS GET INTO THE TRUCK TEAM ITS TIME FOR THINGS TO GET EXTREME” our guides were crazy and it didn’t look like I could change it now. They were ready to jump into this cave.

We had two guides. I never caught their names, I was thinking too hard about the fact I was going to be in pitch black for 3 hours. One of our guides was a tall Spanish man, the other a muscular New Zealander. He liked to say the word ‘extreme’ a lot.

So there was no raft. It’s actually called tubing, as for the parts you float over the rapids and flowing water you sit in a black rubber ring. You can imagine how you bounce around the narrow walls of the cave with barely any control over you’re route into the unknown. At other parts you’d have to hold onto the ring as you scaled the wall and tried to wade through the fast running water. There was two water falls to jump down, one of them you had to avoid a whirlpool which they called the 'corkscrew’. When people jump in, they normally have to be saved from death and come out with a broken bone. As I have said before, our guides were mental. They didn’t have rings they just swam through the freezing water of the cave and jumped rock to rock laughing. Anyway, the kiwi guide actually jumps into this whirlpool to demonstrate what happens. The light from his head torch dims quickly underwater and the Spanish guide watches the water carefully, ready to intervene. 25 seconds and he hasn’t resurfaced. In this time I think he is dead. Great. Only one guide left. He resurfaced screaming 'HELL YEAH BITCHES’. New Zealanders are crazy.

I’m useless at caving. You don’t realise you are weaker than the average human until these kind of situations. I want to do it, but I can’t. After being washed away a few times, the New Zealander guy starts to give out he instructions, then turns to me and says “not you” and throw me over his shoulder. I am an actual damsel in distress.

The best part of the caving was the glow worms. The ceiling of the cave looks like the night sky. Thousands of glow worms light up the cave with their luminous bodies. At one point we are all floating through the cave (I’m forced to go in front with savannah right behind me, of course), everyone is singing (led by the guide who has a voice of an angel and clearly comes up with this idea to show off his voice) and just watching the glow worms. This peace is interrupted by the instructor calling out “okay it’s time to play a game

The game is called 'who can get out of the cave in the pitch black’

GO”

This wasn’t a joke. This was an actual game. This is my nightmare turned into reality. The girl who if she’s sleeping in a room by herself needs a night light, is now trying to navigate a pitch black cave in freezing cold water. I’m so cold I can’t feel my hands and can barely talk. For this game I just feebly call out savannah and pat other people in my group to see if I find her. Finally I do, and we float out of the cave together, reunited.

Back at the caving centre we are given a hot shower, a bagel and a soup. I swear that was the best bagel I have ever had. When we get back to the hostel we continue to eat, carb loading is guiltless when you’re in New Zealand and do extreme things everyday. We happily cook our pesto pasta with red pepper. Earlier in the day we had reluctantly had to say yes when a rather clingy Canadian guy asked to share a room with us. What we thought would just be sharing a hostel room turns out to be a sharing a room with just a double bed and a single. A little too intimate maybe, the sleeping arrangement feels rather odd. We avoided going to bed until the last minute. When we did go to sleep, we also waited for the Canadian in his single bed far too close to ours to fall asleep first. We got a weird vibe from him. When you are meeting strangers everyday for 2 months you get used to feeling suspicious of people.

Since this day a lot of people have told us they would never have done black water rafting in winter. However neither of us have one regret about it, despite the freezing water and proximity to death.

Isab x