The ultimate adrenaline experience in our own backyard

JJ McConnachie

JJ McConnachie is a writer, movie lover, and technology geek. She also runs Get Frank, so if you have any questions, give her an email! jj@getfrank.co.nz.

My bucket list, created several years ago when I had a number of experiences that made me realise life is far too short, is rather long. It consists of skydiving (completed), visiting the pyramids (still to do), white water kayaking (completed), and bungy jumping (still to do). Caving however was not on my list, and I have no idea why! The Legendary Black Water Rafting Co. are releasing a new dry caving tour, The Black Odyssey, on December 1st, and I was privileged enough to be one of the guinea pigs to try it out.

The entire experience is exhilarating, challenging, and (for those with an extreme discomfort of heights) nerve wracking at times. It should be on everyone's bucket list.

Before you embark on your dry caving adventure you must do a "fit" test, which involves crawling through a wooden box. If you can fit through that, you can fit through the tight spaces in the cave. If you are of a larger size, but are reasonably agile, I wouldn't be too concerned about failing the test. The spaces aren't too tight, and it's more about agility than everything. I saw some rather broad shouldered guys squeeze their way through without trouble. Once you are cleared for the adventure, you get suited up in overalls and boots, then head off. Once you arrive in the cave, via a spiralling ramp descending into the underground darkness, you are trained up on how to use the ropes and clips (when the ropes are in use you are clipped on in three places, so there is never any real danger of falling - although try telling that to my gripping hands!). Feeling secure in the knowledge that yes, you can do this, and no, there will be no need for that sharp pocket knife you brought in case of a 127 hour arm chopping, you head through about twenty minutes of tight spaces, squeezing through narrow gaps and hauling yourself up on ledges. For claustrophobics, this is probably the hardest part, but there is no point where you feel entirely enclosed. The worst I found was when I got my boot stuck and had to backtrack a bit to get it out and try another foothold.

Tight spaces over, the real fun, and for acrophobics, so does the fear. You get high. And not the kind of high that gives you the munchies. The kind of high that makes you really hope that the guides were telling the truth when they said that the bolts holding the ropes, and therefore you on can really withstand up to 2,500kg of weight. You edge along rock and onto footholds that look like large staples over streams that echo with the screams of black water rafters (not a comforting sound when you are twenty to thirty metres above solid ground). Despite how challenging it is, this part of the adventure is still extremely fun. There are a couple of flying foxes, a canyon swing, and some ladder crossings that really add to the experience. Every time you begin to think that you can't do it, you'll remember the last challenge you completed, and realise that well, yes you can.

There really isn't a better feeling than, upon seeing the fingers of daylight reaching through rock, realising that you did that. The Black Odyssey is the perfect place to challenge your fears, and for adrenalin junkies it can be as challenging as you want. I might have had my moments where I began to wonder what I was doing in, traipsing around the bowels of the earth, but I can honestly say that it was worth every doubt as this is one of the most rewarding experiences I have ever done.

Challenge yourself on this extreme dry caving adventure with The Legendary Black Water Rafting Co. who have over 25 years of caving expertise. Experience a range of different caving techniques to complete this journey that will seriously stretch your limits.

Test yourself with extreme traversing and mind-blowing heights. Edge over crossings high above roaring streamways. You’ll also spider-walk through ancient rift passages and experience the challenges of technical high rope work and flying foxes.

At every stage you're accompanied and supported by experienced caving guides from The Legendary Black Water Rafting Co. who know and love this totally unique and mind-blowing environment.

www.waitomo.com

 
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  • Jonathan says
    I have so gotta go and do this. This is my sort of thing.

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