At Waitomo Caves in the North Island of New Zealand I could have donned wet suit and signed up for the black water caving adventure promising thrills, spills and (less compelling for me) plenty of chills given the time of year. Instead I opted for the river boat/glow worm experience.
My last cave/river boat experience was down the salt mines near Salzburg where we took a barge across an underground water course. There were no glow worms involved. It was mythic and eerie like a passage across the River Styx into the underworld. I half expected someone to appear with cryptic, eternal questions. I knew then (and still now) that I wouldn’t have the answers.
This one at Waitomo with tour company Spellbound was ethereal and magical. We walked in through the entrance, our helmet lights on at first and then switched them off to let the dark enclose us. At first it seemed pitch and impenetrable and we shuffled along cautiously. Soon though we were moving through shades of black as shapes formed in the dark. At the end of the path we stepped into the river boat. Gazing above, masses of glowworms. Crystal droplets of light suspended by delicate strands. We glided through a silence that was close and cool into a world that was distinctly ‘other’.