Another in my series of posts for Blog4NZ.

 

If you grew up in the 80s like me then surely you use to watch or are at least familiar with the kids TV series Glowworms.  It ran on TV around the same time as My Little Pony (come on, I know you know what I’m talking about) , well because if this show I have been interested in glow worms from a young age. I finally saw real Glowworms while touring through the North Island of New Zealand in November 2008.

Located on the North West side of the North Island is a district of New Zealand called “Waitomo”. Known mostly for farming, forestry and their limestone they also have a lot of limestone caves with rivers running through them. Black Water Rafting Co. have 8-12 person tours through the caves with two types of “caving” options either the 5 hour “Black Abyss” tour abseiling, climbing and tubing or the 3 hour “Black Labyrinth” tour which is tubing, climbing and leaping into the water in the underground caves. The perks to both of these tours is that not only are they action packed and full of surprises but you also get to witness real Glowworms!

I don’t say things like this often however the “Black Labyrinth” tour that I did in Waitomo was probably the coolest, most exciting out of this world tour that I have ever done. The tour starts off with a drive to a river to practice jumping backwards while holding a tube to your butt and jumping into the water to practice for having to do this in the dark, in the cave, off of a waterfall. You are then taken to the small tiny opening of the cave where you walk when the water is shallow and float along on your tube where the water is deep. Now this was back in 2008 so my memory is slightly faint but there was at least 2 times when I had to ignore my fears and literally jump backwards over a waterfall in the dark. I haven’t ever gone skydiving or bungee jumping (not really my thing) so this was probably one of the most exhilarating things that I have ever done. I summoned up all of my courage, but once I had done it, I wanted to do it again and again. It wasn’t the biggest waterfall but it was big enough that we couldn’t get over it any other way.

After all of the action had passed we chomped on chocolate marshmallow fish that the tour guides provided as we turned off our helmet lamps and stared at the ceiling of the cave which was lit up just like the night sky. (Tip: Not only do you need to turn your lamp off to see the Glowworms you also need to turn it off near them as it disturbs them otherwise.)

 

Fun fact about Glowworms:

The part of their bodies that glow is actually their poop! Lovely eh?

Glowworms aren’t actually worms they are larvae.

Their ability to produce light is called “bioluminiscence”

The light is used to attract pray and also to attract the opposite sex.

If there is anything that you are going to do in New Zealand I definitely recommend putting the cave tours high up on your list. Stay tuned tomorrow for a New Zealand video by Travel Yourself!

~Cailin

(Photos provided by Black Water Rafting Co.)