-- Thursday, January 9, 2003 --
18:57 - Waitomo Caves - At 9am, we wandered around the Waitomo Caves Museum and learned about the local cave system, which so far has had about 50km's worth explored. At 9:30, we walked next door to the Waitomo Down Under building to meet up with our black water rafting guide, a man named Ross who is usually called "Irish." He had a deep laugh that rung with just a hint of foreboding doom in it (I think it was intentional). He took us to the rugby field building across the way and introduced us to Nikki, our second guide. We put on soggy wetsuits, soggy boots, and caving helmets, and boarded a van bound for a local cave. Black water rafting, in nutshell: a line of people sit with their bums stuffed into inner tubes (each holding onto the feet of the person behind them), floating down shallow rivers in a cave system, in pitch darkness sprinkled with the blue-green bioluminescence of glow worms and occassional jokes from the guide. We had a great time; the caves were really, really neat. I can only imagine what the main glow worm cave is like. Ours had on the order of hundreds of glow worms. The main glow worm cave has hundreds of thousands, or millions of them.