Black Water Rafting

One of the coolest (and I mean that literally) things we did in New Zealand was go Black Water Rafting in Waitomo. I've been white water rafting in the past, so I was excited to try this! And boy, was it an experience! You go through underground caves on a inner-tube. The next few pictures are not ones I took, but they give you a good idea of what it was like.
I remember this part very distinctly. I'm not claustrophobic, but this section nearly made me so. I didn't have room to put my inner-tube underneath me, like this man. There was just barely enough room for me to turn my head to side and still breath between the water beneath me and the rock above. It felt like forever to get through that part.
One of the cool things you get to see throughout the cave are the glow worms. They look like twinkling little stars all above you. We all turned out our headlamps and took time to just float and look at them while our guide basically explained: "Glow worms aren't actually worms at all - they're larvae. The light comes from their waste, and they use it to attract insects. Glow worms begin eating as soon as they're born. If there's nothing around to eat, the first one to hatch will start eating its brothers and sisters!" That quote was taken from their website.
There were times that we had to get up and walk, times we had to stand on a ledge and jump down into the water, and times we had to navigate our way through the dark where they had us all turn out our lights. Our guides were awesome and definitely made it an adventure.
We broke down into three different groups since we couldn't all go at once. Here's my group! I'm in the back middle.
They first took us out to this river and had us stand at the edge of a dock and jump in backwards holding out the inner-tube on our backside. It's already an awkward task, but even worse because it's winter there and the water was freeeezing! We were so, so, so cold at first. I eventually warmed up, but others never did. The ironic part about this is that we didn't actually need to get in the water at this part. After we all jumped they had us get back out and load up into the van so they could take us to the cave entrance. This was just to practice jumping in the water like we'd have to do later. Actually, I think it was more for their entertainment, but whatever. Here's Shannon as she first jumped in!
Not my best picture ever, but they laughed because even as shocking cold as the water was I managed to smile for the camera.
One of the guides told us, "We'd rather lose a tube than a wetsuit." It was their funny way of saying they don't want us to get hurt.
This is actually our first picture before we go down into the caves. It's just a small hole that you squeeze through to get inside, it's crazy how someone ever found it.
In the cave! My headlamp had some serious issues and either wouldn't turn off or wouldn't turn on.
One thing that I'd like to point out is that they don't pad the corners in New Zealand. They don't seem to be afraid of you getting hurt and that might be because it's not as easy to sue people over things like this, or so I've heard. As we were going along there were multiple times I kept thinking, "If we were in America there would be a handrail here or they'd have smoothed the floor there so people didn't fall, or they'd have provided an alternate route during this part." But you know what? I'm really glad didn't make it 100% safe because it felt a lot more real and was much more fun this way. I'm all about safety, but they had a little more confidence in our abilities than they seem to back home.

Someone else in our group took this picture, love it!
Here's their website:

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