The best thing I have ever done in my life: Inner tubing through the Waitomo Glowworm Caves. Not only was it my favorite part of my New Zealand trip, I have never done anything that combined majesty and adventure in such a serene cohesion.
I remember the first time I watched the “Caves” episode of Planet Earth and thinking how cool the glowworms were despite their distasteful reality, and from my experience if something amazes me on TV or in a movie or photo, it is ten times more incredible in reality. So in my New Zealand research this was an item of interest.
But I am a small girl with little muscle definition. Lifting my 60 pound husky often proves nearly impossible. The more I thought about it the more nervous I got and the more I decided spending the money to spend a minimum of three hours in physical anguish sounded like hell.
I debated over going to the caves many times. But about a week before leaving I received an email from a girl I work with telling me about how amazing her trip to New Zealand was, which she had returned from about a week earlier. Her only regret was not making it to the glowworm caves.
So I booked it. I do not know if it was me being competitive or just taking good advice, but in my already set itinerary I gave myself a three day grace period in Auckland at the end of my trip where I ended up booking a one-day round trip bus ride with Naked Bus and the Wet Hair Deal (which included a boat tour through the caves and inner tubing through the Glowworm caves).
Being in the boat floating beneath millions or glowworms, everyone was silent. It was like being alone in a dark dream with slivers of beauty poking through, seeing stars that you know are not stars only due to their iridescent colors.
The Black Labyrinth tour with The Legendary Black Water Rafting, Co. was a whole different kind of amazing. Going into it knowing there was a 90% chance I was in over my head, I could not be more excited. The first obstacle was getting into a wetsuit, which, to my surprise I had never done before (possibly due to a combination of family vacations taking place in Maui and being slightly scared of the ocean). It look two Japanese twins (one on each side) grabbing a piece of my wetsuit, yelling ICHI, NI, SAN, JUMP! about three times for me to get it past my hips only to, after successfully get all strapped in, be told by the instructor it was on inside out.
Welp, after putting the wetsuit on twice I was good to go. On to obstacle number two: Jumping backwards into a river with my butt securely in an inner tube – and I got to go first (lucky me *sarcastic undertones*). But like getting into a wetsuit, I survived. After I shimmied into the glowworm cave through a small hole and immediately cutting my hand on a rock, the hard part was over. We floated under a cave where the ceiling was two feet above water level (the instructors called it the “limbo” leg), got up close and personal with glowworms to where we could see the actual larva and the small dot in its middle section from where its glow is illuminated, jumped off more cliffs, saw eels, fish and crawfish and even stopped for a chocolate break midway through, ultimately ending with a 300 meter river float beneath the glowworms.
It was a truly unforgettable three hours that I would repeat in a heartbeat.