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UnderWorld rafting

Day 14.

I drive to UnderWorld Adventures, and luckily the tours are still on although we had a lot of rain yesterday. I’m grouped with three other persons, to friends from Canada and a lady from Netherlands. We drive in minibus a few kilometers from where a small train will take us the last part. I hear Danish, so say hello to an elderly couple who are going to explore the caves – no tubing. We get equipped with each our ’lifesaving’ tube (and transport equipment) and start venturing a bit higher (~130 stairs) to the entrance of the cave. We get an explanation for how the caves have originated, and along the tour also the many different calcite formations and fossils – quite interesting to walk around such cave equipped with head lights (and tube). At a point, we all lay down in our tubes with head lamps switched off – all completely dark for some minutes – this does not happen regularly, and it’s also all quiet. We also see glow worms for the first time. Small lights on the ceiling. They can even turn-off the light, so the ceiling is flickering slightly. With the head lamps back on, we can see that the glow worms are up to 3cm long, with 1cm transparent end where the light comes out. Below the worm it has made a string – which should work as a fishing ‘net’ for capturing the insects attracted from the light.

We are placed in each out tube and assembled in a ‘train’ formation. We slowly drift backwards through the cave, and then the ceiling opens with a lot of glow worms – really spectacular laying on the back, gently drifting while you can see all these stars. Especially, that you can see the distance to the stars are different (the cave curvature) – it’s like looking at stars in 3D with this depth. In the background we can hear the river, which from inside the cave sounds like a waterfall we are approaching backwards in our tube! No worries though, we are taken good care of with the two guides – it’s also nice to see the light passing into the cave. We train how to maneuver the tube and come out in sunny clear sky in a quietly part of the river surrounded in green forest. Now the trip back starts, and with the heavy rain during the night, the river is quite powerful. It’s really fun to be taken by the river and several places we need to paddle with our hands to get the right direction and avoid large boulders which could make the tube flip over. Fantastic ride, and several places also with good speed where the river is narrowing in. Highly recommendable tour, also because there are so many different things like cave walking, glow worms, and then the tubing – all very good managed and with the guides explaining in detail.

The drive goes back to Greymouth. The weather is more grey and the waves are more powerful than yesterday – higher than what I have seen at the Danish west coast. Next it’s through Arthurs Pass so I’m ready for a couple of treks tomorrow. It’s very rainy and not worth to stop for taking photos, I can only sense the mountain silhouettes in this rain and grey weather. I find a fine DOC site for 8 dollar which is conveniently placed in the village around 1000m height, where the neighboring mountains go up to roughly 2000m.

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