The day got more enjoyable once we had found the temporarily lost diary. Paul, our guide for the morning, drove to the location of today's adventure, where we changed into wetsuits, and very fetching purple trousers and white wellies!
The abseil was 27m into the cave (Martin, terrified, went first) and watching the shafts of sunlight on the cave walls and ferns distracted from the yawning hole below. It reminded us both of Lud's Church as we settled into a long, open roofed chamber.
The next few hours were spent walking through the river-filled cave, usually only ankle-deep or so, but in parts up to hip depth, sitting on rubber tubes and floating downstream, looking up at the cave roof, climbing through some passages, some smaller than others, and most awesome, walking in complete 'darkness' with the cave lit only by the blue rear ends of numerous glow-worms. This was particularly good where the light was reflected in the water, and after a loud bang, which causes the glow-worms to glow more brightly. The theory is that the vibration from the sound tricks them into thinking that more insects are available to eat and they glow brighter to attract them.
Finally, after exploring the cave in both directions from the entry point, we climbed out into the bright sunshine. Once back at base, hot soup went down very well (it was now nearly 2pm).
We have just returned from an excellent little walk to Aranui Cave entrance, with parrots and kingfishers seen on the return.
Tomorrow, we plan to start the Tongariro Northern Circuit, so may not post again for a few days.