Subterranean rafting in New Zealand

May 5, 2004
Outside Magazine
Week of October 26-November 2, 1995

Subterranean rafting in New Zealand
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Subterranean rafting in New Zealand
Q: Hi, Leslie: I read in your short bio that you have been to/adventured in New Zealand. A friend of mine just returned, and on the ride back to the United States he heard about black water rafting. It has something to do with caves. Any comments?
Brett Hamlin
Lake Linden, MI
[email protected]

A: Black water rafting, exploring subterranean rivers and caves on various flotation devices, has become an increasingly popular pastime in New Zealand. Waitomo, a Maori word meaning water hole or shaft, is a region famous for its limestone caves and formations located about 130 miles south of Auckland on the North Island. Here you can hop on a boat, raft, or tube and explore the watery depths of Waitomo Caves. Glow-worm Cave & Grotto, 011-647-878-7640, takes 45-minute boat tours through the star-like setting of Waitomo or Glow-worm Cave, where the larvae of the fungus gnat emit a soft greenish glow. For those more adventurous, two miles up the road is popular Ruakuri Cave, where Black Water Rafting, 011-647-878-6219, offers daily three- and six-hour underground river expeditions that range from about $50 to $100 per person. Don a wetsuit and caver's helmet and journey on inner tubes through huge caverns of stalactites, cave coral, rimstone, columns, scallop fossils, and over waterfalls, then finish off the day with a hot shower and soup. Waitomo Down Under, 011-647-878-6577, offers similar trips at comparable prices. Call the New Zealand Tourist Board, 212-302-6063, for more information.

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