We left Auckland and drove 3 hours to Waitomo to see the famous glowworms! There are several ways to visit the glowworm caves ranging in time and level of adventure. We decided to do the Black Abyss 5 hour black water rafting tour with Legendary Black Water Rafting. What’s black water rafting? Basically, we climbed down into a cave and went tubing throughout the cave checking out the glowworms. We were given wetsuits, but the cave was still a bit chilly. I should note, we were visiting New Zealand during their winter time but were told the cave temperature doesn’t vary much throughout the year.
Additionally, the pictures from the rafting adventure were provided to us on a USB for a small fee. I did not take them, our tour guides that work for Legendary Black Water Rafting took them.
We started the tour with a little abseiling training so we wouldn’t die abseiling into the cave.
We hiked throughout the cave before getting on our tubes. Some of the hiking was dry and other parts we were immersed in the water.
I may look excited, but that’s the look of shock from going down a slide into the cold water.
We took a short break for snacks and warm drinks. Our guides played around with the long exposure setting on their camera and we used flashlights in colored cups to get these cool pictures! We were there during the Olympics, so we of course had to represent Team USA.
This is Cecil the eel, who hangs out in the caves in the same spot and came up to us while we were walking through the water.
These pictures don’t do it justice, but below are what the glowworms looked like. We laid back in our tubes, linked arms/legs, and were guided throughout the cave. It was incredible to just lean back and look up at all the little glowing worms. I would suffer the cold water just to have that feeling of awe again!
To end the tour, we had to hike up a waterfall. This is the look of “I’m freezing… get me out of this cave!” haha But really, after 5 hours of being cold, I was ready for a warm drink and dry clothes.
Our guides told us about the Ruakuri Loop Walk just down the road from where we went rafting. They suggested we check it out at night to see the glowworms and also during the day for the scenery.
The best part of hiking Ruakuri at night was how beautiful the stars looked. We laid down in the parking lot and just stared up at the stars in amazement. My pictures don’t do it justice!
We revisited the trail the next day and were excited to see what everything looked like during the day time.
Though we all concluded we were a little crazy for going black water rafting in winter, we still had a white water rafting tour booked for 2 days later! The tour really was very fun and seeing the glowworms was an incredible sight! I’d highly recommend a stop in Waitomo if you’re ever visiting New Zealand!
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