July 17 - Waitomo Caves
The last couple of nights it had been raining off and on, but last night I don’t remember it raining at all. The weather had pretty much cleared up by the time we went to bed around 11:15 PM. We had a big day ahead of us so we woke up pretty early. Andy got up at 6 AM and I stayed in the tent until about 6:20 AM. He went to the bathroom and put his contacts in. I knew it would take him awhile to get ready and it would only take me a minute.
When I got up Andy was getting the food out of the car to take to the kitchen for breakfast. We had a piece of jelly toast, a banana, our 2 pears, and a kiwi each. We also had some free tea somebody had left for others to use.
We needed to get up early because we had a 2 ½ hour drive to Waitomo Caves to do a 7-hour Lost World Adventure. It includes abseling into a cave down a 100 meter drop and then walking, swimming, and climbing for the next 7 hours. It includes lunch and a bbq dinner. The total price was $356 NZD, which included a 20% discount since I booked it early. It is by far the most expensive thing we are doing in New Zealand, but it’s also one of the things I have been looking forward to the most.
The tour started at 10:30 AM so we wanted to leave around 6:45 AM to be there in plenty of time just in case something were to happen or the roads were bad from all the rain. We were told they were really windy roads in the middle of nowhere so we also didn’t know how long they would take to get through.
After breakfast it was about 6:55 AM when we left. We were going to get there around 9:30 AM and have plenty of time to get things sorted out. We needed swimsuits, a towel, and good walking shoes. We were hoping we would be able to bring our gopros, but on other things we have done they haven’t allowed them. Most likely to force you to buy their photos.
The town of Waitomo is about 160 kilometers northwest of Taupo. We had considered staying in Waitomo, but due to the weather and the good deal our campground was giving with the stay two nights, get one free. It meant we would have to get up early and have a long drive back at night, but we felt like this would be best considering we were going to have to go back south to Tongariro anyway. It gave us a nice central location for visiting Rotorua, Tongariro, and Waitomo.
The drive to Waitomo was really cool. The sun was just coming up when we left and there were some really cool pinkish and orange clouds in the distance. The weather said it would be drizzling rain in the morning and then clear up, but the skies were mostly clear as we left.
As we drove and the sun came up we got to see some really cool scenery. The drive was actually one of my favorite parts of New Zealand so far. There were lots of rolling green hills with sheep and exposed limestone rock. It was really pretty. I didn’t do any video though or pictures because I wanted to save my battery and card space on my gopro for the cave tour. We will be going back the same way, but it will be dark at that point so we won’t get to see anything.
The drive passes through a couple of tiny towns, but other than that we were basically in the middle of nowhere with very few people, houses, or cars around. We must have drove pretty fast because we made it just before 9 AM. We were extremely early. We actually missed our turn the first time we drove by and had to turn around. As we got close to the actual building for the cave tour we were going on we drove passed that too. On the way back up the hill after turning around we drove by it again. The third time we finally saw the right turn quick enough and turned into the parking lot.
We were really early so we just sat in the car for a few minutes. There were two other cars in the parking lot, but both of them were probably workers it seemed. There was no reason for anyone else to be that early. I was thinking it could be someone doing an earlier tour as well I guess. Andy had to go to the bathroom so he did that. I just sat in the car for a few minutes and decided I needed to pee also.
I don’t know where he went, but I thought he went inside the building. I just ran across the parking lot into the woods. It was really wet and muddy from all the rain so I had to find a place to go hide. There was a trail so I went down it a little way. It didn’t seem like anyone would be going down it at this time of day so I just walked a few yards off.
I came running out of the woods as Andy came back. He asked where I went and I told him there was a trail. I’m sure he knew where I went because he said there was a bathroom right there. I probably went farther then just going inside the building.
I went back to the car and
To be continued...