February 5. This morning was incredibly frantic. I woke up at 8:45am and had to shower, have breakfast, and do a little exercise (I have been trying to keep up my girlish figure while I’m here) before we left at 7:15 . Remarkably I did it all before we were on the road for another 2 hours.
We stopped at a Kiwi farm first. For those of you who don’t know a Kiwi, it is an indigenous bird of New Zealand that is rapidly going extinct. It resembles the characteristics of the Dodo bird, with two legs, short wings, and a heavy flightless body. However, it possesses a long thing beak. So we went through a tour and learned much about these nocturnal animals, while also seeing and learning about other native creatures. The guide ranged from creatures such as lizards to owls. We were also able to hold a Kiwi, which was similar to holding a large and heavy cotton ball. We picnicked right outside the farm for lunch, but we were soon on our way to cave tubing.
We drove another hour to the cave tubing tourist location. The people were very friendly. We were soon suited up with 5mm wetsuits, booties, a helmet, and a tube. We had to drive to the cave site, and all the while I wondered why we needed a 5mm wetsuit (the water had been incredibly warm so far). So we hauled our too heavy bodies out of the bus and walked ¼ a mile to the cave entrance, which was about 5’ high and 2’ wide. We squeezed through the entrance and trekked along the tunnel (the only source of light was our headlamps). The water rushed along our feet, and I realized why we had 5mm wetsuits on. The water had an icy chill that penetrated to your bones. It made for an uncomfortable, but not less exciting, cave tubing experience. We hopped in our rafts and drifted (at a Lazy River speed) for about 10 minutes through a passage where the ceiling was, I kid you not, 1’ 6” high from the water. After the 10 minutes, the cave opened up to a magnificent opening, large enough to fit a cathedral in. We were instructed to turn off our headlamps and look up. What I saw almost made me topple off my tube. There were billions of tiny glowing dots, way up on the ceiling. It was as if the night sky was etched on the cave ceiling. We soon discovered that these green lights were actually maggots, which mixed my awe with slight repulsion. 30 minutes later we came to a 15’ waterfall. We had to dive into the abyss with our tubes pressed against our butts. It was alarming, but we all survived the leap. So we trekked and waded through the cave a bit more, stopping occasionally for photos and chocolate, and finally came out through “light at the end of the tunnel.” I will never forget that experience, I would say it was one of the best so far.
So we got back to the car, after taking more photos and eating bagels, and drove 10 minutes to the nearest hostel. This was even better than the last. Equipped with pool, hot tub, trampoline, and washing machine! We were in heaven. After some pool time, 3 loads of laundry, and an intense rugby pickup game with some locals, we hiked up the pub to have dinner and watch rugby (New Zealand vs. Kenya). After about 3 hours the group started drinking and getting rambunctious, which was my cue to start documenting my day, but now I’m finished and I think I’ll go back to the pub to see how much of a fool everyone has become. Thanks for reading and keep the feedback coming!