A Sense of Achievement


From the moment I awoke that morning, I’d been wondering why I’d let my husband talk me into this insane “adventure”.

Too late now. Our group of eight, donning wetsuits, hardhats and wellies had undergone a session of basic abseiling training, and our two guides had declared us ready for the 35 metre descent into Waitomo’s Ruakuri Cave.

Feeling sick with apprehension, I tentatively abseiled down, helped with strong encouragement from our guides, until I reached the cave floor. As soon as the whole group had made the drop, we patted each other’s backs and walked towards what can only be described as a gaping black hole. Here I found myself being harnessed onto a Flying Fox. My heart was in my mouth; I held my breath as I whooshed down into total darkness. I was too terrified to release the scream that lay quivering in the pit of my stomach, instead giving a meagre whimper of relief as I was released from my harness. It was at this next level down in this vast cave’s network where we switched our torches on and moved towards the next challenge.

Just as I’d recovered, we were each presented with a large inflated inner tube and instructed to hold it under our backsides whilst making a leap into the crystal clear water that lay in the cave’s belly. This is the same water that we had just been ooohing and aahing over, when our guides had kindly pointed out a swarm of huge eels cruising around. With little time to think about what I was about to do, I launched myself off the ledge then, “hello hyperventilation”! I surfaced, gulping for air and flapping around like a fish. The shock of the ice cold water had completely taken my breath away. I continued to gasp and flap as the rest of the group followed suit, until we were eventually united in full flap. We gradually regained our composure, now bonded into a happy team of adventurers, keen to move on to face whatever lay in store. Yes, you’ve guessed it, the adrenalin had taken hold.

We then formed a human chain and drifted down the cave’s river, gliding along in our inner tubes. Ah, we were now cave tubing! We tubed until we came to a point where we were told to switch off our torches, lay back and enjoy the show.

Wow! The cave’s ceiling was festooned in thousands of twinkling luminescent lights, an absolutely stunning sight. This wondrous vision of light is produced by the glow-worms that make this area of New Zealand’s North Island a major tourist hotspot. We’d just opted to take the craziest, and most exhilarating way to see them.

Our last challenge of the day was to climb a waterfall. Hard work in slippery wellies, with raging water pressure pounding onto my hardhat, but I made it. We waded on towards the cave’s exit. I emerged, squinting in the afternoon sunlight, feeling re-born.

A McCarthy

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