If you’re headed down to the mountain this winter and keen to max-out on the thrills, we guarantee stopping off at waitomo's legendary Black Water Rafting en route is the best way to double your adrenaline quota. fact.
Winter is all about experiencing epic outdoor activities and enjoying our beautiful country. With Ruapehu keeping that snow coming, heading down to the mountain is high on the priority list at this time of year for all the boarders and skiers. One catch, we all know Aotearoa’s notoriously changeable weather makes picking your ski days tricky - so we’ve prepped a solid back-up plan. If conditions are looking sketchy, or you’re just keen to make 110% sure the weekend starts on an epic note, we give you six reasons why Black Water Rafting is the best stop-over on your way to the mountains this winter.
1. An epic adventure with adrenaline levels to match
For those that live for pow, it’s the adrenaline rush, endorphins and time with mates that make being on the mountain so awesome. Caving might be a whole other environment to the mountains, but we challenge you and your crew to jump on a Black Abyss or Black Labyrinth trip and see if you don’t come out feeling as amped as a day up on the mountains.
These trips get the heart racing and palms a little sweaty. From the steep abseil into the caves, high-speed ziplines over deep gorges and amon, a wicked tubing experience, to climbing waterfalls. By the time you’ve clambered your way back out into daylight the stoked-levels will be high and the adrenalin surging.
2. Black Water Rafting runs in any weather!
If it’s not quite the bluebird day it was cracked up to be, you can count on Black Water Rafting as your backup option - the weather’s always good underground.
Unlike the unpredictable mountain weather, we’re pretty lucky to be able to count on Ruakuri Cave (where Black Water Rafting takes place) being open pretty much every day. It takes a very heavy rainfall to turn our underground streams into raging rapids that are too much to handle, but that’s pretty rare! Otherwise, the beauty of being underground means rain, fog or sunshine, the caves are good to go.
3. It’s not as cold as you think
If all the weather convo has you thinking about the cold and whether those underground rivers are chilly at this time of year, put that worry aside - we make sure you stay toasty! We kit you up with a very thick wetsuit, made to tackle Waitomo’s not-so-tropical waters. Throw in the caving booties, helmet and some body heat (the trip gets those muscles going) and you’re ready to tackle any caving situation.
Plus the water temperature actually doesn’t vary that much between summer and winter, so you’re not getting a raw deal. Swathed in thick neoprene, once you’re down amongst we’ll make sure you’re so pumped that the cold’s the last thing on your mind.
4. It’s on the way down to the mountains
Little known fact for the Aucklanders, heading to the Ruapehu via Waitomo doesn't add much time to your journey. It’s an easy 2.5 hours from Auckland to Waitomo, and once you’ve got your kicks here, it’s a two-hour drive direct to Whakapapa or Turoa.
If you’re leaving Auckland on a Friday night, Waitomo has plenty of accommodation options from budget cheapies to more luxe digs. Rather than doing the long haul direct, spend the night here. Jump on our first Black Water Rafting trip in the morning and be back on the road by midday to shred the slopes that afternoon.
5. Quality eats
For a town its size, Waitomo punches above its weight when it to getting a good feed. Our cafe and eatery choices hit the spot when you’re in need of post-caving and pre-mountain eats.
First up and most conveniently for us, is Black Water Rafting’s own cafe, Long Black. Made for hungry cavers, we’ve got all the juicy, meaty (or non-meat) burger options you could ever want. For a burger of epic proportions we dare you to tackle the Armageddon - stacking a prime beef patty, bacon, crumbed chicken and battered prawn inside two buns. If you’re feeling less meat-hungry, the kitchen also whips up a mean vegan mushroom, olive and chestnut burger.
If it’s time for coffee and brunch, Waitomo Homestead is your first port of call, out on State Highway 3 before you turn into Waitomo. Or just after Waitomo village, Waitomo Glowworm Caves Visitor Centre has a cafe overlooking the surrounding native forest, with hot food options for those with big appetites.
6. There’s 20% off all Black Water Rafting trips this winter
Last but not least, we’ve made it a little easier on your wallet to tick off this legendary NZ Must Do this winter. With 20% off all our Black Water Rafting trips for the winter months, now’s the time to book if you’re keen for a deal.
If you need any more reason to justify it, the discount it means heading Black Water Rafting is pretty similar cost-wise to getting yourself up on the mountain. Plus you get a whole lot more thrown in. Our trips come with awesome guides who are with you for the whole 3-5 hours, all the caving gear you’ll need (including that nice warm wetsuit), a sugary snack stop or two, before winding up with hot showers and an equally hot soup and bagel to top it all off! All the ingredients needed for an awesome adventure underground.
Make the weekend epic, book in your Black Water Rafting Trip, then get those skis ready to finish it off in style.