In the morning we drove west from Rotorura to Waitomo, which is famous for its underground cave systems. There are a large variety of tours available, from gentle boat rides through the caverns to full day caving expeditions. We chose a tour called the Black Abyss, run by The Legendary Black Water Rafting Company.
After being kitted out with wetsuits and harnesses our group took a short bus ride to the cave opening. We began the tour with a 30 metre abseil into the first cavern where, with all our torches switched off, we caught our first glimpse of the glow worms on the ceiling above us. We then ziplined through a pitch black tunnel which was again covered with glow worms, before making our way through a few more caves and stopping for a quick hot chocolate and biscuits to warm up.
We then started the water activities by jumping off a ledge into a black pool and tubing along the river while the guides told us about the caves and their history, particularly the glow worms that have made them so famous. We also slid down water slides, scaled waterfalls and climbed through small crevices and ‘the muddy pass’. After a few hours underground we emerged back at the surface and returned to the centre for further food supplies of hot soup and toasted bagels. This was definitely one of the highlights of our trip so far (the caving – not the food!)
We got straight back on the road and headed for Taupo, our next stop. The local yacht club, which is right on the edge of Lake Taupo, allows free overnight camping for self-contained vehicles so we found a space and pitched up for the night.