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The Legendary Black Water Rafting Waitomo

Be brave.

If you follow me on my Instagram or Facebook you would know that this is my mantra for 2018. I want to try new things, be involved and conquer my fear of jumping off high things. With New Zealand and many other travels on the horizon, it’s the perfect time to make this happen. So here I am: standing with a tire tube at the top of a 3 meter cliff in the dark, most of the way down a water filled cavern, being told to jump. How did I get here?!

We woke up in Waitomo, excited to start the day. Our expectations were high after the previous days adventures. It was 7 am and we had an 8 am booking with The Legendary Black Water Rafting Company.

What is black water rafting you ask? It is a total abseiling, ziplining, cliff jumping, floating, sliding, rapid clambering, eel spotting and waterfall climbing experience… all under the lights of the famous Waitomo glow worms. Yes, it is as awesome as it sounds.

We were equipped with all the gear, and off we went!

First up: an abseiling lesson.

You need to learn to abseil to get down into the cave. Our guides Koen and Mieke explained the tools and then put us on a little hill to abseil down.


Then comes the actual descent. Strapped up and ready to go, I get lowered into the cave, the opening shaped like an hour glass. It was so fun squeezing through the middle part.

Once down, we clambered through a short tunnel till we reached a drop off. We got tethered up again and ziplined through the complete darkness further down into the cave. It was so fun, and the abrupt stop got the heart going!

A short hot chocolate break that warmed the body and soul before we had to move onto the next part… jumping into the river below. Before I could say “I’m kinda nervous about this” I was being ushered over the side. I was glad I didn’t get any time to think to hard about it, and was super proud that I had done it. I was also super glad it was over, haha.

The next part was super chill. Chill in two ways; one, we sat back on our tyre tubes and took in the glow worms shining above our heads while the guide filled our heads with info. The best of which was the glowing part of the glow worm is actually its poop. Two, it was freaking cold. But I was having too much fun to care.

After all the glow worms and glow worm facts, it was time to start finding our way out of the cave. First was the “drunken stumble”. A crazily uneven surface under knee high water that makes you took like you’ve been sneaking tequilas.  Even better, sometimes it got deeper unexpectedly, so under you went! Great for a laugh.

Between levels we got to slide on our bellies, head first, down a slippery-dip! I felt like a seal, haha. Also, lolling at my face.


Next we squeezed through a small tunnel, fondly named the rebirthing tunnel. Small enough to make it a challenge, but not at all going to make you claustrophobic.


Also we met Cecil the eel. A totally friendly eel that hung out in one of the cave pools. So chill, posing for photos. Last (but perhaps the best) we climbed out the cave… up 2 waterfalls! The first was a straight up vertical tunnel with water pouring through. Climbing up it was such a challenge! The second was more of a traditional waterfall, water falling over a cliff. Both were only 2 or 3 meters, but gosh it was so fun. You can tell by the grin on my face as we climbed out of the cave how much fun I had.


I was also glad to get out of the cold water, haha.

The Legendary Black Waterfall Rafting Co run tours every day, but they are pretty freaking popular, so book in. We completed the Black Abyss 5 hour tour. There’s also the 3 hour Labyrinth tour and a more advanced tour for those with caving experience.

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