Waitamo Caves and Rotorua
Over the last 2 days we have slept in a couple of car parks, abseiled down a load of dark underground caves with waterfalls thrown in there just to make it a bit harder, been to a Mauri evening and done some on stage dancing, seen some geothermal activity with gysers popping their tops and chilled out in a geothermally heated hot pool resort. Heres how it all went down...
1. Waitamo Caves - We had the choice of 2 tours: Tuma Tubing - involving us floating in rubber rings and jumping off waterfalls; or Honkin Haggis - abseiling and rockclimbing up and down waterfalls. In the end the decision was made for us by the weather being too bad to do the tubing, so we braved the abseiling tour which is almost always on, come rain or shine. We stayed the night in Waitamo Adventures car park (our company that we booked the trip with). They were sound with us doing this and even gave us some free sandwiches which was mighty kind of them! On the morning of the trip it was pissing it down! We were taken to a warehouse where we were kitted out in some lovely damp wet suits and a pair of wellys. Then we were shown how to abseil on a muddy slope which was funny because Han kept doing everything right handed after the guide had set it all up for a lefty (Han said she was left handed), and during the my demos of abseiling I kept falling on my arse in the mud! Comedy duo! The actual caving trip was pretty hard core. We were firstly thrown off the steepest waterfall and had to abseil down, then shortly after we had to crawl comando style down a low clostrophobic tunnel full of gushing water, we did some more abeiling, some tight squeezing through passages that a big guy would never fit down, then to finish, some pretty challenging rock climbs. Along the way we saw a big cave spider and a cave full of 'cave coral' which are coral like structures that hang from the cave roof.
2. Mauri evening in Rotorua - We paid $80 for the best value for money experience that we had in New Zealand. It was a Mauri welcoming evening, where we were introduced to a Mauri village, watched the women perform a dance and the men perform the haka, had an amazing 3 course meal made from food cooked under ground (Hangi) and we watched a gyser blow its top under spotlight. During the dances and the Haka we were also given the chance to have a go ourselves, which we both loved! Han was swinging her prop round like a pro swingball player and I looked hard as nails doing the Haka with my tongue out!
3. Geothermal park - We went to Wai-O-Topo geothermal park the following morning where we were straight into the action as we watched a large gyser blow its top at 10.00. It does this every day at 10.00 so I think it is activated unaturally somehow. After watching this amazing spectacle we had a walk around the park which was full of natural goings on. There were smoking holes in the floor, smoking hot lakes, sulphur caves, lime green radioactive looking pools, with a few nice views along the way. It was nice to see nature at work but it was not nice to smell it because the whole park stunk of sulphur aka trumps! On the way out of the park gates we stopped of to take a look at the bubbling hot mud pools which were very unusual.....also smelling of s***.
4. Hot pools - We headed straight opposite the park to the lovely hot pools for some relaxation. The pools were all heated naturally so we were advised to not dip our heads under the water to reduce the risk of bacteria entering your body through your ears.....unfortunately I only read this after I had just bombed in! We went in all the pools the park had to offer which included some nice lagoon style ones overlooking the mountains and some really hot ones which we cooked ourselves in till we couldnt take any more. The fun wasnt over though because afterwards we had a shower and cleaned ourselves up which is always a nice treat with our lack of shower access!
5. BP car park - One of the nights we stayed the night in a BP petrol station car park as we decided this was the safest bet not to get caught. We were directed to space in a yellow box to park up in, to Hans diaproval, but we did it anyway. The night was going ok until 6 in the morning when we heard tapping on the window which scared us to death. It was the morning shift petrol attendent but luckily she wasnt angry and just asked us to move to the other side of the car park because I was in the space where the lorrys refuel haha oops!
6. Reids Farm - After the hotpools we drove about an hour south to Taupo where we looked around for a coat for Han and failed again! Good job I love clothes shopping. We then found out about a free camp site called Reids Farm so we drove there in there dark. The camp site was really muddy so it took us ages to find somewhere to put Bob down where we werent going to get stuck! It was basically freedom camping because the toilets were out of order, but at least we didnt have to worry about the police here!
Over the last two days we probably did the most activities in the shortest space of time. The most memorable was the Waitamo caves but for value for money nothing comes close to the amazing meal we had in Rotorua. We ate so much good quality food, got involved with the culture of the Mauri's and had a really good evening apart from the BP garage wakeup the following morn!