The Black Abyss tour takes place in Waitomo, New Zealand, famous for glowworm caves. There are several high adrenaline tours to checkout and plenty for the more cautious too. See my other glowworm experiences here. This particular tour is run by the Legendary Black Water Rafting Company and their website has multiple tours to choose from depending on your time available and adventurous nature.
Training and Repel
The tour we chose, Black Abyss, requires a time allotment of 5 hours although you are not in the cave for a full 5 hours. Once arriving to admissions area, you are given equipment and driven by van to Ruakuri Cave where you receive a brief training on repel ropes. Following the training, one by one, you repel 35 meters into the pitch dark cave. The repelling part was over quickly and it left me wanting to do a longer repel in the future.
Flying Fox and Black Water Tubing
The tour continues by tramping through the dark cave to a flying fox (or zip-line for my American friends). I have to say it was a bit spooky zip-lining somewhere that I could not see the finish. The tramping continues until you reach a ledge with small donut shaped floats lying around. Here you stop for a short hot chocolate break before taking the giant leap into freezing cave water and pulling yourself upstream by rope.
Once you get to the end of the rope everyone attached legs and the group floats together downstream under the light of only the glowworms. By the way, glowworms are more glowing maggots than worms but from a marketing angle glowworms sounds better.
Caving, Waterslide and Eel
The tour continues on with varying water levels and cave height. There were a few spots that we had to squeeze through on our stomachs and other areas where the water was over my head.
The guides allow little breaks throughout the tour for snacks and hot chocolate (all included). These stops offer plenty of photo opportunities including a small water slide and creating a word with cups. Our group spelled “Waitomo”. They do not allow any GoPro’s or cameras though so their pictures are not of the best quality. How I wish that I had my GoPro for repelling and flying fox.
One of the tour guides pointed out an eel but I avoided this area completely. They creep me out!
Finally, I would say maybe the most challenging part for me would be the waterfall climb (though not heavily advertised). There are two waterfalls that you are given the option to climb up. At this point you are in a full wetsuit, helmet, frozen hands and boots filled with water. They place one guide at the top and one guide at the bottom pointing out which rocks to place your hands and feet with zero safety ropes. These are not large waterfalls but the water is powerful and slippery.
Everyone made it out of the caves though and enjoyed a hot cup of soup.
I would highly recommend this tour to anyone not claustrophobic!