Lan and I woke up the next morning, collected the rental car and headed off to discover New Zealand together. First, however, we had to hook ourselves up with some music for the drive. We had two iPods and thousands of songs between us, but neither one of us had brought the cable to connect the iPods to the car’s speakers. After a quick trip to Newmarket, we found a shop and bought what became our lifeline. Then we hit the road with our hair in the wind and music in our ears.
We headed toward Waitomo, stopping in Hamilton for a quick bite to eat. I was so excited to do the Haggas Honking Holes tour with Waitomo Adventures. During the tour, we would be abseiling (also known as rappelling), rock climbing and crawling through underground caves. Awesome!
We met at the office and discovered that there were only four people, including the guide Russell, on this tour. The other girl, Meredith, had done a tour earlier in the day and signed up to do a second because she enjoyed it so much. After quick introductions our foursome left the office to get geared up in our wetsuits, helmets, headlights and boots. Sexy, huh?
With all of our do-dads in tact, Russell took us to a small hill outside the cave to teach us how to use the ropes and carabiners. After a few practice abseils, I got the hang of it and it was actually fun. From the practice hill we walked down, down, down to the entrance of the Haggas Honking Holes cave and entered the cave with an abseil. What a way to start the tour!
Russell’s instructions were to step off the ledge and squat into a sitting position while swinging 180 degrees to face him again. Talk about trusting the ropes. However, as I’m not one to balk at a challenge such as this, I dutifully took the leap (or step) of faith and am still here to talk about it.
This abseil was followed rock climbing and a couple more abseils. Between all that action there was some heavy-duty crawling and squeezing between rocks. At one point, we had to army crawl through some rocks and I thought I might not make it. I have absolutely no upper-body strength and having to pull my weight was tough.
By the end of our two-hour underground adventure, my arms and legs were dead. Our last task was to climb up a ladder so we could get out of the cave. Then we had to hike up, up, up the hill back to the lockers to get out of our water-logged wetsuits. This was the worst part of the tour. My thighs were like lead weights at this point and the dirt steps seemed to go on forever. I was huffing and puffing and had to take a couple breaks for fear that my legs would buckle and I’d tumble back down and have to do it all over again.
In the end, I was really happy we did this. It was a great day and an excellent experience. We climbed. We abseiled. We saw glow worms and rock formations. Everything was extremely cool and Russell was a great guide. I especially loved that since our group was so small, we got to do a few different things and spent some time really admiring the caves. I definitely recommend this experience.