Lost World – Caving Adventure in New Zealand’s North Island

The Waitomo district in the North Island of New Zealand is a massive caving system that boost fascinating underground beauty with limestone formation, rushing stream inside caves and the magical glowworms. These caves created the opportunity for caving adventures even for amateurs like us. It is the TOP MUST DO in the North Island of New Zealand!

There are many caving tour operators offering caving adventures of different nature. There are the relax ones where you can sit in a boat and cruise through the labyrinth of caves. Or, you can opt for adventures of varying degree of difficulties.

We were really attracted to the ones that offered underground black water rafting. However, being first timers in caving adventure, we went for the 4 hrs 100m abseiling cave adventure offered by Waitomo Adventures Ltd instead. Advance booking is required. If you pay online, there is a 10% to 20% discount depending on the season.

Waitomo Adventures Ltd

 

Preparation for Cave Adventure

Upon arrival, after some briefing and filling of forms, we were driven for about 30 mins to a privately owned sheep farm. Why here? Well, the cave is right beneath this farm! Historically, the owner discovered this cave when he was searching for his lost sheep, and found the sinkhole. In other words, the cave belongs to this owner! The tour operators pay a fee to the farm’s owner before conducting any caving tours.

At the preparation site, we were dressed up in worker jumpsuits, rubber boots, helmet and abseiling belts. We were checked twice by two instructors. After instruction and practice on how to use the abseiling equipment, we started our walking and climbing to the top of the cave.

Cave entrance

One of the cave entrance

Abseiling into Cave

After 10 mins walk, we were finally there! * That brownish line is actually a stream.

Top of cave in waitomo

Final instructions, final checks….

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And here we go for our 100m (30 storey) abseil into the lost world of Waitomo….

Abseiling into lost world in waitomo

 

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Side view of abseiling into lost world of Waitomo

Each instructor will accompany 2-4 participants. Being low season, we had an instructor to ourselves. On the way down, we were educated on the surrounding caves system by our guide cum instructor.

stalactite in lost world of Waitomo

Stalactite that we saw were usually pointing straight from the ceiling. But, these stalactite were pointing at a 45 degree angle as they were exposed to the strong wind (which were blowing at this direction) here.

Further down, we saw another cave opening. Due to its positioning, this cave had yet to be explored.

Cave opening in Waitomo 1

 

Cave opening in Waitomo

This one here is the cave that we were going to explore…

Cave opening in Waitomo 2

After much reluctance, we sped up to the bottom of the cave (we were the first group to abseil down, but last group to reach). 😀

Explored cave in Waitomo

Yet to be explored cave

This stream flowing out of the unexplored cave will continue to the cave we were going to explore and beyond.

Stream in cave at Waitomo

 

Start of Cave Adventure

An easy 5 mins walk brought us to the entrance of the cave that we were exploring.

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Then, the climbing, jumping and balancing started….

Exploring cave at lost world waitomo

 

Exploring cave at lost world waitomo in darkness

 

Inside cave at lost world waitomo

One of the sinkhole that leads to this cave

As we moved further into the cave, we were greeted with limestone formations and a gushing stream.

Limestone formation in cave in lost world waitomo

 

Gushing stream in lost world waitomo

After squeezing through some really tight gaps, we arrived at a chamber of the cave full of the magical glowworm of Waitomo!

Glowworm of Waitomo

These worms let out a greenish blue light in the dark and instantly transform the cave into a galaxy of stars. With light, this is how they (the white strings hanging from the ceiling) looked….

Glowworm in Waitomo in light

As we continued through the cave, we were met with more limestone formation, but these were of different compound compared to the earlier ones we saw.

Limestone formation 1

 

Limestone formation & tunnel

Walked through this limestone tunnel and we came to the end of our 4hrs adventure 🙁

Final Ascent

Since we abseiled 100 metres down to the cave, meant that we had to climb the same amount of distance up!

Climbing out of lost world waitomo

The metal ladder is very stable so safety is not an issue. Nevertheless, with so much mud on the ladder, it was quite slippery. But, fret not! There is a safety harness attached to us to ensure that we do not stay in the cave forever! And for those who find the seemingly endless climbing too tough, the guides will do a favour by pulling you up as much as they could.

While waiting for the others, we were able to immerse ourselves with these beauties of the cave…

Eyes to the sky

A pair of eyes!

Love formation by tree trunk

Love formation by tree trunk

The 4 hrs adventure felt like minutes. It zoomed past just when we were getting excited about the adventure. It has definitely kindled our interest in caving adventure, and it is almost certain that we will go for the 7 hr epic caving adventure should we return to New Zealand again!

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