Perhaps you missed a visit to Waitomo Caves in the North Island. Never fear, New Zealand Cave Glow Worms can be found on the West Coast as well.
Underworld Adventures in Charleston offers a world-class glow-worm and cave rafting experience, which are equal to if not better than our counterparts in the North.
Underworld Adventures is only 20-25 minutes drive from Omau Settlers Lodge. Allow 3-4 hours to complete the cave rafting adventure, it’s the most spectacular experience and a great way to spend a morning or afternoon on the Coast.
What A Fantastic Team Building Adventure!
To mark the end of a very busy season, Lee and I decided it would be nice to do an adventure activity with our hardworking team from the lodge. Cave rafting at Underworld Adventures, Charleston, was the perfect option, and only a 25-minute drive from the lodge. Albeit we completed this excursion at the end of May so the weather was getting a little chilly!
On arrival, our team were duly kitted up with wet suits, hard hats, headlamps, gloves & booties… and headed up to the Adventure Centre Cafe to watch a brief video and have a safety briefing. I was a bit nervous before the safety briefing, but my mind was put at ease immediately by the well-trained crew who were looking after us for the day.
Nile River Train
We got on a bus and drove up the road a bit, then a short drive on farmland then into the Paparoa National Park. There we boarded the Nile River rain forest train. Slowly chugging along in the train is a great way to view the spectacular landscapes of the Nile River Canyon in the Paparoa National Park.
We collected our inner tubes (for the rafting at the end), then hiked through the bush and up 131 stairs to the Nile River Cave entrance. Once inside the cave, we worked our way down through three levels of cave system – each level more fascinating than the last. There was a spectacular array of stalactites and stalagmites in the upper dryer levels of the cave, which have taken hundreds and hundreds of years to form, and we also saw the odd glow-worm or two along the way. Our guide pointed out a glow-worm eating a small flying insect which had us all in wonderment.
In the lowest level of the cave we walked across a gravel river bed, littered with fools gold. The cave, lit up by our headlights, sparkling like an Aladdin’s cave – it was amazing. Of all the cave levels, I enjoyed this bottom level the most, especially when we reached the slow moving underground river.
We were shown how to join link arms and legs in a human inner tube train, and we gently floated downstream into a massive cavern. Inside the cavern we were treated to the most spectacular glow-worm display I have ever seen. They seemed to go on forever.
But all too soon it was over and we saw distant sunlight streaming into the cave marking the exit.
Rafting the Nile River in an inner tube was another highlight. I thought I’d be more nervous than I was (as I’m not a swimmer by any stretch)… but it was so much fun being bounced around the white water rapids, an awesome end to a wonderful adventure with great team-mates.
All in all, the whole excursion took 4 hours, so it was very good value for money. Our guides were super knowledgeable, friendly, safety conscious and extremely proud to showcase this special jewel on the West Coast.
I can’t recommend Cave Rafting more highly. It’s superb and an absolute must do for anyone who wants to experience the true untamed natural wilderness of the West Coast.