Waitomo Caves to Auckland

Last day!!! I have to admit I’m glad about this. I need a break for all the previously mentioned reasons. I need to get back to a daily routine, at least for awhile. We woke up at 6:15 [ouch] to depart by 7am, luckily it didn’t rain much last night. Foodwise, we didn’t have any good cereal or spreads for sandwiches, boo. From camp it was 2 hours to Waitomo, including a coffee stop in which I so stupidly put salt in my mochaccino.

We arrived for our Waitomo Caves blackwater rafting and glowworm tour at 10am and then were led across the street to put on wetsuits. These were hard to get on… mine were tight around the legs buy baggy above them. We had to wear booties and boots too. After getting ready, we were whisked away in a shuttle with a group of Japanese kids to the caves. The guides kept snapping our pictures for a photo cd, which I would have bought had I not looked ridiculous in every shot – seriously, I’m either blurry or I have a really fat face. Ah well. We got there and grabbed inner-tubes, and then proceeded to hike across a hilly field with them. Must have been a very strange sight to see 17 people in wetsuits hike through farmland!

Finally we descended into the cave and they had us sit inside for a bit and say our names and where we were from. It felt so cool sitting in a limestone cave with stalactites above you and a passageway beckoning. We got to walk through water and mud through this cave with the light on our helmets to guide us. And all through the walk there were glowworms on the ceiling, looking like stars in the sky. So awesome. They had us sit in our tubes and face backwards, linked together in a long line while going through 5-10m deep water. All you could do was lean back and stare up at the glowworms. It was kind of eerie not knowing where you’re going and not being able to tell if you’re about to bump into something. At the end of this path, they had us fall backwards with our tube over a waterfall – it happened too fast for me to even think about it… all I know is I got soaked.

From here, it was more floating… kind of hard when you can’t kick and are wearing a tube and thus can’t move. They had us sing while floating, so crazy girls Isabelle and Amaya led us in song. Good times. Near the end, we each got to go down a waterslide and fall into shallow water. It was definitely a fun experience. The glowworms were so neat – they each make thin strands hang down around them to trap flies… and the glowing is caused when they pee/poop because they have no ‘butts’ supposedly.

Afterwards, they served us tomato soup to warm up. I only felt cold near the end of the trip and it was just my hands. We all went to check out the photos taken on our tour and every one of me came out HORRIBLE! And they didn’t even take any of the actual caves or glowworms!

We left Amaya and Isabelle there in Waitomo and Neil picked them up to take them to a surfing town. It’s a little bit odd that Neil, on his break from running tours, would keep showing up after leaving us on the South Island. I mean why would he take us all out to a pub and take some of us to another town after finally getting rid of us?

The ride to Auckland was strange… I couldn’t wait for the tour to end, but I knew that soon I’d end up missing it. The few remaining people on the bus were quiet. As soon as we stopped in the city, I got off and said bye to them en route to the ferry. It’s a weird feeling knowing that after a month of seeing these people every day, I’ll never see them again.

And so ends the most incredible month of my life.

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