Te Araroa Trail – The Black Abyss

Monday, December 11, 2023

I woke up excited about today. I was going to be going on a 5 hour caving adventure tour this morning.

I had a private room in the hostel last night so I could leave all my gear out and just lock up before heading out.

The cave tour was just across the street from the hostel so I walked over about 8:30 for my 9:00am tour. There was another American couple there that were also hiking the Te Araroa and we talked while waiting for our tours.

The guide called us all together and started getting us ready for our trip. There was 8 people in our group plus the 2 guides. We donned our wetsuits, harnesses, and helmets then loaded up on a van to the cave.

To get into the cave we would be rappelling down about 100’. They went through a brief training on how to use the rappelling equipment then took us to the mouth of the cave.

They asked for volunteers to go first and I raised my hand. The rappel down was pretty easy and straight down with a small section in the middle that I had to work through.

Reaching the bottom I waited for the rest to rappel down and we continued on.

The next obstacle was a drop into a larger cavern with a stream flowing through it. This time we were put on a zip line and zipped to a landing beside the stream.

After a quick snack we were each handed an inner tube for the float down the stream. The entrance to the water was a platform about 10’ above the water and we jumped into the water landing on our tubes. The water was cold and I was glad I had a wetsuit on.

After a brief talk about the cave geology we pulled ourselves upstream using a rope attached to the wall of the cave. As we pulled ourselves upstream we entered an area with glow worms on the ceiling above. In some places the ceiling was so high it looked like stars above.

We stopped once again to get a close up look at the glow worms and learn about their life cycle. From here we all moved downstream in a “train”. We soon reached a small drop that had a nice slide installed and we all slid down to continue on.

From here we walked downstream through the water on very uneven rock. It was mostly walking but had one spot we had to crawl through a small hole. The going was slow and we reached a spot to stop and get another hot drink before beginning the climb out.

The route out was climbing up a couple of waterfalls. This was my favorite part of the trip. We exited the cave after a short walk/ crawl to the surface.

Overall this was a great caving tour and I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to be back in a cave.

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