The Lost World Caving Trip
04.11.2011 - 04.11.2011 17 °C
A nice lay in until 9am before packing everything up again and heading for the bus station. At this point I should point out that I am getting a bit hacked off with never staying more than 1 night in the same bed! I never thought that travelling around the world would involve so much travelling!! I know that sounds silly but I had this idea that we would settle somewhere for a few days maybe a week then move on when we were bored. The truth is that we are spending most the day on coaches only to check in to a hostel, cook, eat, sleep, up early again to get to another coach! Will be glad to settle in Roturua or Lake Taipo for a few days soon.
Anyhey, got the coach from Hamilton to Waitomo where the driver dropped us off at a crossroads and said that Waitomo was just around the corner. So we put on our heavy packs and tramped off across the road and headed down the main road, turned a corner and BAM! A sign saying Waitomo 8km !! Might be just around the corner in a coach but on foot with 15kG's of pack its about 3 hours away! It was also about this time I realised Jayne had left a bag on the coach which had our guide books and my fleece in it. Will have to buy a new book and new fleece next time we can find a suitable shop.. grrr...
So very un-impressed with the coach driver (and with Jayne's ability to lose just about anything) we started walking and decided to Hitch a ride to the town if we could. Several failed attempts later 2 cars stopped at the same time and we jumped on the larger of the 2 vans for a lift into town. He dropped us of at the door to our hostel so that cheered us up a little.
Just enough time to check in and change for the short walk to the caving centre.
Our scottish guide Alan greeted us and we hopped in a van for a short journey to the start of our action packed afternoon. Arriving at the hut in the middle of the hills Alan went through a safety briefing and got us dressed up like smurfs, complete with white gum boots, blue overalls and hard hats (although the hats were red, ruining the smurf effect!).
A short walk to the top of the cave we were strapped in and taught how to use the 'cow tails' (two safety lines with clips on) around the top of the cave on a kind of training loop.
We all passed with flying colours so off to the platform at the top of the 100metre drop. Now I am not the best with heights so walking out onto the metal platform suspended above the entrance was quite terrifying on its own.
and looking over the edge was intense!
However, when he asked us to sit on a pipe which was a foot out from the platform while he strapped us in was unreal. I was wondering WTF I was doing there! Once strapped in he said to start lowering ourselves down and see how it felt.
My heart was pounding and my mouth was dry as I dangled there, 100 metres from the ground suspended by a piece of rope the thickness of my little finger.
We started to slowly make our way down, feeding the rope through the gate (A device that stops us plumeting to our death!) and it was suprisingly hard work. The view was just incredible though, I have never seen anything like it. It was a bloody long way down and I started to enjoy it and even looked down a few times!!
See if you can find us in this next picture...
Any Luck?... Here's a close up...
Once at the bottom it was a spectacular view just staring up at the entrance we had come through. The platform was so far away there was no hope of seeing it from down here. So we sat and admired the view up for a while.
We even found the time to make some cheesy shape photos while we were chilling, see if you can guess who each one is...
After some mucking around it was time to carry on into the caves and explore a little further. It was slippery, hard going and it got darker with each footstep further away from the entrance. We saw many amazing rock formations on our way in including stalagmites, stalagtites, halagtites and angel wings.
Quite a way in now Alan asked us to turn off our head torches and to our amazement after a brief period of darkness the roof lit up like the night sky as thousands of tiny glow worms became visible!
Onward from here was tough going until we came across the biggest ladder I have ever seen to take us up to the next level. It was over 30 metres high and looked very dangerous but was the only way out, so up we went....
Many more twists and turns later we eventually made it out into the open again. What an amazing trip and well worth every penny!! Happy to be alive we posed for one more picture before heading off to remove our smurf outfits and go back to the lodge for a well deserved pint!