Saturday, December 13, 2003

Black Water Rafting (1 of 2)

OK, so Waitomo has itself some glowworm caves.  OK, so they're not really glowworms.  They're arachnocampa luminosa (and yes, I do feel like Hermione levitating a feather every time I say that) and we're talking about the larval phase of a fly-type critter that gives off this bioluminescence in order to attrack prey.  (Yes, I was awake during the filmstrip.)  Whatever.  They're in caves and they glow blue-green and (since the caves are really dark) pretty much all you see are hundreds of blue-green lights all over the ceiling of the cave, and if you want to call 'em glowworms, go ahead.

And you can see them by walking through the caves, taking a boat ride through, or "black water rafting" -- which is riding an inner tube.  ("Grab a tyre the size of your bum," our guide memorably told us.)  I had signed up for the latter.  My reservation was with a company called "Waitomo Caves Float Through," which was, actually, a rather more accurate description of what we did.

Of course, suiting up was half the fun.  We put on:  wetsuits (already wet, and really hard to pull on), wetsuit jackets, wetsuit booties, gumboots, gloves, and helmets with lights attached to the front (kinda like miners wore).  And boy, if that didn't look ridiculous enough, then we each grabbed the aformentioned bum-sized inner tube, and tramped across a farm to the cave entrance -- while some cows had what sounded like a really good laugh at our expense.

There were six of us, and once we finally got in the cave and in the water, we formed a chain.  Imagine sitting on your inner tube with your legs kicked up on the tube of the person in front of you.  You're holding the feet of the person behind you, and leaning back on their legs for a nice view of the glowworms.  Excepting the whole row of you are moving backwards. 

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