A Travellerspoint blog

Day 77: Saturday 18th May 2013

Waterfall and Inner Tubes

overcast 21 °C

We were picked up from the campsite at just before 9 for the short drive to the rafting centre. There were actually 3 companies offering the cave based adventure trips in this tiny village of only 40 permanent residents, we went with the longest established. We were soon kitted out in all the gear, although it was all a little on the campsite the wetsuits were promisingly thick but I wasn't taking any chances after the white water rafting freezing toe incident and borrowed 2 pairs of socks: better too hot and all that!
We got back into the van and were driven down to our drop off point. It turned out it was just Martin and I and the two guides; we were so lucky to have the guides all to ourselves. Our first task was to select an inner tube that our bottoms could fit through, that done we had to stand on the edge of a platform over the river and placing our inner tubes behind us jump backwards into the river which was a very unnatural thing to do, we both managed it though, I struggled to paddle over to the exit steps though and half thrashing around half paddling I managed to get there in the end.
We took a short walk, inner tubes over arm through the woodlands, it was a great warming up exercise, heating the water that had been trapped in our wetsuits.
Next step was to enter the cave system, having visited the Jenolan caves in the blue mountains of Australia I was expecting pretty much the same size of caves just with water, I was quite wrong! The entrance was quite small and not the open access I was expecting. It opened up slightly but it was a lot tighter than I was expecting, we were following the river through the cave system with its varying water level sometimes up to wait height other times using the rocks your feet were almost dry; I now understood why we had been allocated short Wellington style boots, I didn't fancy my chances walking with just wetsuit socks. There was a short section where we could use our tubes and then it was back to walking.
We got to a small water fall where we jumped backwards and then we were offered the opportunity to explore a section if the cave tubes, the guide gave us instructions and off we crawled, it turned out we would have struggled to go wrong, with most of the off shoots returning back to our original starting point, not knowing this at the time and faced with some tight sections I found it pretty scary.
Once back with the guides we continued to the big waterfall they had been talking about, I had been a little concerned over this as the backwards 'jump' was so unnatural and made me feel quite unnerved. I was therefore considerably less excited than Martin when they asked us if we wanted to do the waterfall twice, jumping once without the tubes and then returning to collect the tubes with via some muddy cave sections, we both nodded enthusiastically at the suggestion, I must have been briefly possessed! Next thing we were lining up to jump off the waterfall, it was cold but luckily unlike the initial jump into the river I managed to keep my mouth shut!
We swam around and under a short low section which due to the raise in water levels was just big enough for your head to fit between the water and the ceiling for which I was very grateful. I very briefly entertained the notion that I had seen a similar scenario on the 999 tv programme I used to watch when I was younger; I quickly banished this thought before it managed to fester in my head and instead marvelled at what an amazing experience we were having; a much healthier thought!
We shimmied on all fours through a long section with, as promised, muddy floors before reemerging at the top of the waterfall, this time we were to jump with the inner tubes. one of the guides tubes had actually been swept away which ,want he was swimming, I went first and actually was quite impressed with myself, I actually enjoyed it (after I had safely landed!)
The next sections was completed as a 'chain' linking our tubes with interlocking arms and kegs we floated with our headlamps off down the river, gazing at the glow worms positioned on the roof of the cave. It was like star gazing: a wonderful memorable few minutes before we had to dismount and climb down some rocks before carrying on. During this bit we were able to look up 65 feet to a hole in the ground; scary to think we were so far underground.
The last section took us under stalagmites to the outside of the cave once again. It all went so quick, after this it was back to the camp for a hot shower and some soup.
We spent the afternoon relaxing, did some exercise and then took a quick dip in the hot tub before walking to the neighbouring restaurant for our last night in the van supper. The restaurant had great reviews for its food and by no means did it disappoint! We both enjoyed stead with all the trimmings and shared a chocolate moose for desert. Before retiring to the van for the sat time: tomorrow we were back to civilisation.

Posted by Jolley-Jarvis 04:59 Archived in New Zealand

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