The Black Water Rafting in northern New Zealand is one of the best activities to do in this magnificent country. A full day Black Water Rafting tour is on top of the list of almost every traveler, who wants to have a look at northern New Zealand. And it definitely should be for many different reasons.
Ever seen some fireflies live? Ever stepped into a real underground grotto, which you’d usually only see on a DMAX or National Geographics documentary? These are just a two awesome things of many that wait for you at the Black Water Rafting in northern New Zealand.
I can already highly recommend you this event before even really starting with this post. I absolutely loved it and I would always do it again. In comparison to other highlights you can do in New Zealand, this one is a relatively eased attraction, even though there are some moments in between, where your adrenalin level will go a little higher. It’s a great combination, just like if you’d combine a bung jump experience with a walk in the park.
But before I tell you more about the highlights and the details, I quickly want to give you an update on all the important general things you need to know. You might ask why?
Because from my experience it’s always good to have some backround information before you go to any place or do any activity in the world that you don’t know about.
Black Water Rafting in New Zealand – General information
The spot where the Black Water Rafting takes place is called Rotorua, which lies in northern New Zealand. Rotorua is a small village with about 58.000 inhabitants. It’s also very famous for the Maori culture and landscape. The whole area developed over millions of years and was, at first, inhabited by the Maori. After the Europeans invaded in 1828 AC. This place went through a revolution and is a center of attraction for travellers and tourists from all over the world today, even though it’s quite small.
How to get there
To get to Rotorua in northern New Zealand, the spot where the Black Water Rafting takes place, is pretty easy. You can either go by car or bus. Several bus companies take you there for a couple NZD. Driving with a car or a motorcycle is even more convenient, because you can stop anywhere you want in between.
Most people come from places in the north like Auckland (2 h and 45 minutes) or Cathedral Cove, which takes (3 h) or from villages in the south like Waimangu (20 minutes). The way to the starting point of the Black Water Rafting in northern New Zealand is already a small highlight for itself. You’ll come along some evergreen valleys, see several mountains like the Tongariro mountain chain and wonderful crystal clear lakes along the way. Depending on the direction you come from, you can additionally stop by at Hobbiton, which is a Must See for Lord of the Rings geeks like me 🙂
Weather conditions during the Black Water Rafting in northern New Zealand don’t really matter anyway, but you might be interested in how the weather might be upfront and afterwards.
Generally I would not recommend to do the Black Water Rafting in northern New Zealand in the winter, because even in summer it’s already quite cold. In the winter it will be freezing, since it’s an underground activity.
During summer you’ll normally get a temperature between 10°C – 14°C. During winter it will drop down even lower. The weather in this area of northern New Zealand can almost be considered as central European.
The weather outside of the caves are obviously way higher. Depending on the season it can get up to 30°C+
Before you try the Black Water Rafting in northern New Zealand you obviously need accommodation first. You can generally decide between good hotels and hostels. As you might know already, I prefer hostels, since they are cheaper and they simply do the job. Also consider the fact that you won’t stay in Rotorua for that long, so is a good hotel really worth it?
It all comes down to your preferences and needs, but these are a couple good hostels/ hotels you can try out:
All of them can be found in the proximity and have a good rating.
This is one of the most important sections for most people, who want to do the Black Water Rafting in northern New Zealand. Everyone wants to know prices, especially, if you’re backpacking, because you try to save as much money as you can while you travel. It’s obvious that the costs depend on your standards, but the following points will give you an overview of what you’ll probably spend, if you travel low to medium budget:
– Transportation: 38$+ NZD with Intercity Bus from Auckland
– Food: 15$+ NZD, if selfmade (40$+ NZD when going to restaurants, etc.)
– Accommodation: 30$+ NZD for a hostel (50$+ NZD for hotel)
– Tour: 142$ NZD for adults
I really liked the Black Water Rafting in northern New Zealand and I highly recommend it. Nevertheless, I definitely realized a couple things from the trip, which I quickly want to tell you. Some of them might be useless, some might help you. Just weigh, what you think might be a good idea for you:
- Eat a lot before you start the Black Water Rafting in northern New Zealand – the trip takes quite a while and you will need the energy
- Don’t do the trip, if you like have claustrophobia or if you are afraid of the dark- it will be dark and tight sometimes
- Bring a waterproofed video/ photo camera – You’ll get some of the best shots ever
- Try to be focused when you walk through the caves and soak up as much of the experience as you can – you will probably won’t see this again
Black Water Rafting in northern New Zealand – Highlights & Procedure
The Black Water Rafting in northern New Zealand is full of different highlights. This time it’s not like you can see some beautiful landscapes, do a helicopter flight, hike some mountains or see some paradise beaches like you can do in other places in New Zealand such as Cathedral Cove, Tongariro Crossing or Paihia. But therefore the tour itself contains some awesome highlights you won’t find anywhere else in New Zealand.
The Black Water Rafting in northern New Zealand starts with a meeting of all the people, who booked the tour at the tourism center. This is the place where you get the gear, which consists of a thick wetsuit, a helmet and neoprene shoes. The helmet usually has an attachment for a video camera. Here is what I use and I highly recommend to bring one 😉
After a brief introduction and the fitting of the gear, the guide takes a picture before the start the actual Black Water Rafting in northern New Zealand. The Black Water Rafting got its name from the White Water Rafting. The only difference is, that it takes place in the underground and that it’s more of a floating, jumping and crawling experience than a proper rafting.
Hit the cave
You have to walk a little to get to the cave. If you’d had to find the entry on your own, I promise, that you couldn’t. It’s pretty hidden and the entry is very small. You have to climb down a couple meters until you reach the first cave room. Here you can already see and feel that it’s gonna be dark, wet and most of all… FUN!
The first bit of Black Water Rafting in northern New Zealand can be done by walking, swimming and floating. You’ll have to make tour way through some small water holes a couple times and jump from mini hill. You always have to use the light on the helmet to reduce the risk of an injury. This part is really good fun already.
By the way: the limestones in this area are older than 1 mio. years already. Crazy right? 😀
After a while you will reach a spot, that absolutely blew my mind! It is one of the big highlights from the Black Water Rafting in northern New Zealand and it reminded me a lot of what I have seen in the caves in Vietnam. It’s a formation of pure white limestone hanging down from the ceiling. These stones are very spiky and if one would break and fall onto your head, you’d have a serious problem. But don’t worry, nothing ever happened 😉
These rocks developed over a period of more than a million years years and they are very rare. Apparently these stones consist out of a very rare combination of different stone types. You won’t see something like that a lot in your lifetime. You aren’t allowed to touch them since they are such a valuable product of mother nature.
This is the ultimate highlight of the Black Water Rafting in northern New Zealand in my opinion. And it’s not just me, who thinks that this is the biggest attraction of the Black Water Rafting tour, many other travellers do as well. Almost at the end of the tunnel system you will come to a tunnel, that is completely dark. Additionally everyone has to turn of the lights.
This is the moment you see something that I consider to be one of the most magical things I have seen in my life so far – fireflies! It’s seems like your are floating under a million stars. They are brighter the hungrier they are. I had the feeling they have been enourmously hungry 🙂
Besides watching the wonderful scenery that surrounds you in this moment you have to make your way through the completely dark tunnel by paddling in your tube with your hands. You slowely need to make your way forward. Don’t rush tough, this moment will end sooner than you think.
Glowing worms are basically animals that eat insects. When they shine, they try to attracts prey. Actually, they are quite highly developed creatures, according to the guides.
They look really really cool and they are pretty much the main reason why people do the Black Water Rafting in northern New Zealand. So be excited for them!
At the end of the Black Water Rafting in northern New Zealand you will come out of the cave and do a couple fun games like throwing your cube around with all the other people or trying to let it roll as fast and far as you can. Whoever wins gets a small price from the guides. After a while you will be brought back to the center where you can give back your gear.
You have the opportunity to buy photos and even a video, if you like. I would always recommend that since it is a great memory that you can have a look at over and over again… 😉
Last crazy fact: Even an 88 year old lady once did this trip. So what’s your excuse? 😉
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