Kia Ora days five, six and seven: burrows and caves

Part one. We left Paihai bright and early. Our hosts waved us off with an All Blacks flag. Apparently there’s to be a referendum on the flag and a lot want this as the national flag. Why not I say though its lack of any Maori influence will probably and rightly count against it.

We detoured to the last remaining significant Kauri forest. These beasts are huge, competing with redwoods at least in my memory. Here’s a couple of pics.

2014-11-29 10.36.59



2014-11-29 10.37.37

The Lawyer gives you the scale

The day was mostly driving. We were told, re NZ driving

1. The roads are empty and

2. No local will let you in.

The second was  true (some of the time) and the first broadly correct outside of Auckland. What makes it a great drive though is a combination of  the unfolding scenery and a satnav that insists on the back roads. It is so lush, there are so may herds of cows – not so many sheep yet a while – and but for the abundance of Palm trees, the mountainous backdrops brings to mind Wales and Scotland.

We took our time stopping on the east coast, having visited the west for the Kauris. Both are stunning though when the scenery levelled out mid morning it had a Dutch feel briefly.

Eventually we reached Hamilton – a rather sleepy Saturday afternoon, making one think of Watford or Bedford in October rather than a significant city. Nice chai latte mind.

Eventually after the sat nav decided we would go really rural we wobbled and wibbled between fields of everything until we reached our home for the next couple of nights.

2014-11-29 18.58.09

Hobbiton one it was called. Such a curio, mind and a very comfortable bed too.

This was Waitomo village, small and basically there for the caves. We ate well (again) at Hu Hu. And for me it was a somewhat nervy night as tomorrow was not only my birthday but also the Black Water rafting.

I’m not aquatic. I don’t like getting out of my depth. I also abhor small spaces and the two MRI scans I’ve had nearly turned my brain inside out. So it was obvious that I’d chose the Abyss Tour in these caves for a treat.

2014-11-30 13.30.10

Getting ready. All the equipment too. Do they think it’s dangerous?

We were given these pieces of rope. ‘Cow’s tails or ADDs’ they said. ‘ADDs?’ ‘Avoding Death Devices’. Those I kept close.

So we were to abseil first. We practiced and, nervously, with our third in our group a charming lady from Frankfurt, Lena, we did a little aerial ballet.


First we pushed and pulled…


Then we jumped – I’m the blobby one doing my famous flying Rodin

Then they hung us over this hole. 35 metres of hole. With a gap like an hourglass to abseil through after which you need to spin 180 degrees and kick off the wall. This is me at the top.



Hmm, relax? Really?

I look shit-scared for a reason.


Silly old fool… knuckles still a touch white..


But then a bit happier (not the great footwear) – they photoshoped this. The Lawyer is more confident..


He’s barely holding on, show off…

And this.


You can’t really see my face because it’s mostly a scream…

Next we walked a few hundred metres and were attached to a zipwire and sent off in the dark. You think it’s going to be pitch black but then you see these extraordinary glow worms. Either that or some amazing work creation programme has had some unemployed 18 years olds installing thousands of LEDs. They are stunning. It’s a shame when they tell you glow worms are essentially maggots, the glowing bits are their excretions and a male glow worm is made up of 50 percent genitals. They live to have sex for three days then die. Hmm, now if I was a Buddhist and had a choice what I came back as….


The guide described the cobwebbed bits as ‘like snot’. Kiwis have just such a range of classy descriptions….

Oh and here’s an arty one


Yup, I went down there…

After that we were given a rubber ring and told to jump backwards, holding it to our rumps into the river. Which of course we did. We floated down stream and were pulled back up before climbing off into the river. Which was only about three to four foot deep. We followed Philippa our guide up stream, through the Birthing Canal…


Lock me up if I say I’ll do this again…

And on to a pool, home to Cecile the eel (no piccy I’m afraid).


There were these two Brits and a German in a cave…

We paused for me to tell a poor anecdote and eat chocolate. After that we climbed up two waterfalls and out into the sun.


The sad fact is I seem to have lost my dentures…

I can honestly say it’s the most fun I’ve had in ages. Apart from snoozing at the Test match of course.

This video doesn’t exist

Here’s a video showing what we experienced, though with the guides rather than us. Believe me it is very true to life.

We slept well.

Part two and we travel to Matamata and Hobbiton….





About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published several books: a four book series following Harry Spittle as he grows from hapless student to hapless partner in a London law firm; four others in different genres; a book of poetry; four anthologies of short fiction; and a memoir of my mother. I have several more in the pipeline. I have been blogging regularly since 2014, on topic as diverse as: poetry based on famous poems; memories from my life; my garden; my dog; a whole variety of short fiction; my attempts at baking and food; travel and the consequent disasters; theatre, film and book reviews; and the occasional thought piece. Mostly it is whatever takes my fancy. I avoid politics, mostly, and religion, always. I don't mean to upset anyone but if I do, well, sorry and I suggest you go elsewhere. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
This entry was posted in New Zealand and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to Kia Ora days five, six and seven: burrows and caves

  1. Amber Prince says:

    What wonderful pictures!
    It sounds, and looks, like a wonderfully fun- and frightful- experience.
    Did you really lose the dentures?


    • TanGental says:

      Ha! No thank heaven. I have British teeth, Amber – i.e. shapeless and lacking colour unlike the younger generation who have all watched so much American TV they aspire to dental perfection. Especially if their parents are paying the orthodontist.


  2. Norah says:

    I’m so impressed Geoff. I wouldn’t even dream of doing that. You are so brave! Looks awesome. I love those ADDs. We all need more of those! šŸ™‚

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Sherri says:

    This is amazing Geoff…now onto part Two… šŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Charli Mills says:

    Holy smokes! You are the man! White-water, zip-lining spelunking–I had no idea this existed. Maybe for a nibble of chocolate, maybe. The intertube looked fun and you have great jumping form! This is a Journey!


  5. willowdot21 says:

    I love the photos I love the shoes I love the fact that you and your lad are getting on so well!!


  6. What wonderful memories you are going to have. I bet you are glad you just took the plunge and did it. We went in a boat when we were there but this looks fantastic.


  7. A fabulous post, Geoff. It looks very exciting but I am glad we did the dry tour. We also went to Hobbiton which, while very pretty, did not quite live up to my expectations.

    Liked by 1 person

Comments are closed.