We left Hamilton, the largest inland city in New Zealand to continue down the north island to the Waitomo Caves, the home of Glow worms. We drove a few hours to a little campsite near the caves and specifically 'Rap, Raft and Rock' where we'd booked to do a 6 hour session.
I woke up quite excited raring to get down into the caves, we arrived at the office to meet simon, our guide for the day and took a short minibus trip to another hut, where he kitted us up in wetsuits, lovely purple trousers, and our miners helmets. Then another minibus trip to the cave entrance where the fun began (if getting kitted up wasn't fun enough).
After a little safety talk and some instruction (quite rare for New Zealand) we walked down to the rappel point and lowered ourselves into the dark, a 28 meter drop into eel infested, freezing water. We were a group of 6 so one after another we waited for our turn. Once all of us were down and Simon had followed, we got out of our climbing harnesses and with our lights switched off, started to paddle through the water into the darkness of the cave system. As it got darker we started to pick out the glowing worms above us until we came out to a chasm absolutely covered in them, looking up was like looking at the stars. Simon created a huge bang on the water, as well as scaring us to death, the worms thought it was feeding time and started to glow brighter. He told us about the worms and how they weren't worms at all but maggots, they glow because they cant go to the toilet so they burn their 'waste'.
We walked further up to find the caves getting narrower and narrower until we were on our bellys scrambling through the mud, fantastic (or awesome) fun! at one point we came out at an underground lake and some of us jumped in the freezing water for a quick swim to clean off, absolutely pointless as we had to go back the way we came, through the mud.
Once back to one of the joining systems, we grabbed rubber rings, once again switched off our lights and with the aidf of simon floated down a pitch black river, the glow worms showing us the way, maybe simon too. At the end Simon told us to get off our rings to climb out of the caves, he didn't mention however that were I was, was still 8 feet deep and surprisingly to me and Becky we went straight under, more freezing water. When we surfaced everyone else was standing looking at us and Simon chucking to himself.
Lastly (5 hours after we started), it was time to get out to daylight and dry land, this involved getting our harnessed back on and a further 28 meter rock climb out, with wellys! not a pair of scarpa boots in sight....