haggas honking holes

29th july

Looking very fetching in my 7mm wetsuit, white gumboots and helmet I squeezed through a tiny crack in a huge rock that im sure was only meant for hedgehogs. Once through the hole I attached myself to a safety line and began to abseil 30m down an even smaller shaft.

The Waitomo caves south of auckland are pretty amazing. ‘Wai meaning water and ‘tomo’ meaning shaft or water hole. We opted for the cave called haggas which involved caving through hinking holes. I lied on my intro form saying I wasn’t claustrophobic as I didn’t want them to stop me doing it. I needn’t have bothered as the cave instructors saw the fear in my eyes. The reassured me and said this was the moxt enclosed bit. Now who’s lying!!

Now this is what you call caving! 3 waterfall abseils, a couple of ‘close you eyes and jump’ drops, a few ‘hold your breathe and swim through’ tunnels and a lot of ‘cling on for dear life’ climbs up sheer walls. Now i know why gum boots are nicknamed spiderman boots! i was able to stick to the limestone wearing them!

The haggas honking holes weren’t all hard work though. We did have a couple of breaks to admire the arachnacampa luminosa (thats gloworms to those of you who haven’t visited the waitomo caves museum). Millions of little starry lights on the cave ceilings. The lights aren’t actually the gloworms, they are the gloworms poo! nice. very pretty though!

At 75 metres below ground we sat in the cave a drunk a special kiwi caving cocktail (lemonade) and ate chocolate fish while telling crap jokes. 4 hours later, I emerged with almost all my nerves in tact and feeling rather shaky. There were a couple of times when i i tried to climb back up instead of abseiling into small holes but I managed it. After a shower to warm up we had a few beers with a guy who was one of the stunt horsemen in all the three Lord of the Rings. My claim to fame.

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