A SENSE OF Won­der­ment

Glow­ing Ad­ven­tures' tour through the Wait­omo Caves will take your breath away, writes Alana Srubar-Vernon

Go Travel New Zealand - - Waikato - Go Travel NZ · Spring 2017

Hav­ing done quite a bit of cav­ing dur­ing my time with Glas­gow Univer­sity Pothol­ing Club, I’ve usu­ally been dis­ap­pointed with a com­mer­cial op­er­a­tion and the lack of “real” cav­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. Glow­ing Ad­ven­tures though, takes things up a notch and doesn’t dis­ap­point. Set amongst rolling hills with spec­tac­u­lar Te Kuiti farm­land back­drop, it’s a great spot to meet oth­ers in the tour and be­gin your ad­ven­tures. Off the beaten track, far from the crush of the “main” Wait­omo Cave tours, it’s pleas­ant to only have a few oth­ers com­ing along for the ad­ven­ture. Our tour with Glow­ing Ad­ven­tures, wasn’t the typ­i­cal ex­pe­ri­ence as it had been rain­ing “just a bit”. So much so, that the stream in the main cave was a rag­ing river gush­ing wildly through the cave tun­nel. So in­stead of do­ing the usual ex­plor­ing through the main cave, we had a short­ened high tour. We all clicked our cara­bi­neers onto the ropes, en­sur­ing at least one was hooked on at all times. Our jour­ney into the bow­els of the Earth be­gan to the ca­coph­ony of water and rocks blun­der­ing be­low. We soaked up the views along the higher route, grap­pling along ledges, giv­ing us a much more per­sonal and closer ob­ser­va­tion of the glow worms twin­kling dili­gently down at us. There were some pretty im­pres­sive ex­am­ples of flow­stone for­ma­tions, and a num­ber of wa­ter­falls to have a shower un­der if de­sired. Turn­ing off our head­lamps at the turn­around point, the river’s path was clearly high­lighted by the glow­worms, fol­low­ing along it for their food source. On the way out (or in), keep an eye by the en­trance to the main cave as I noted some fos­sils. The sec­ond part of our tour was truly spe­cial. In­ad­e­quately named the Lime Cave, the “cave of won­der­ment”, gave ex­am­ples of many dif­fer­ent speleothems. A muddy en­trance greeted us and I hap­pily squelched my way through it, rel­ish­ing the high qual­ity spa feel­ing the mud gave my skin. Shortly after a cool dip in some high risen water, it was into the dry part of the cave. There is truly a stark con­trast be­tween a dry and wet cave (the pre­vi­ous cave be­ing a wet one). Though it may have

been a dry cave there were the odd leaky holes ini­tially, rain­ing in pure water that quenched any thirst that I had de­vel­oped from the clam­ber­ing around. As al­ready al­luded to, this cave is full of amaz­ing speleothem ex­am­ples with some thick col­umns and ter­race dis­plays to be mar­veled at along the route; to a lit­tle squeeze. Even though I’m not a fan of tight spa­ces, I had ab­so­lutely no has­sles crawl­ing through, and the re­wards for do­ing so are ab­so­lutely re­mark­able. An­other quick dip in some very clear water and just around the bend, ev­ery­one let out a sigh of ex­cla­ma­tion, as our eyes took in this mar­vel. We were wowed, with the clear water pool re­flect­ing some of the long­est and high­est den­sity of straw for­ma­tions I’ve ever seen. The length of some of these would be in ex­cess of a me­ter, which do­ing the math of usual growth of 1cm ev­ery 100 years, re­ally makes you pon­der about your place in a ge­o­log­i­cal time­frame. I can only hope that you are “un­for­tu­nate” enough to not get the stan­dard tour due to weather con­di­tions, as the un­con­ven­tional tour of this cave is truly breath­tak­ing. A quick walk back and we are tak­ing turns show­er­ing, re­gal­ing each other with our favourite part of the tour, over tea with yummy bis­cuits. All too soon, it is time to part ways from what has truly been a glow­ing ad­ven­ture! In ad­di­tion to the stan­dard tour, Glow­ing Ad­ven­tures also of­fer a pri­vate ver­sion of the stan­dard tour, giv­ing you and your cho­sen com­pan­ions some se­ri­ous bond­ing time in a spe­cial place. An­other unique tour on of­fer for those bud­ding pho­tog­ra­phers (or pro­fes­sional ones) out there, is their Pho­tog­ra­phy tour. Spend the time you need cap­tur­ing the glow worms or other cave fea­tures in all their glory.

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