I largely fail to get up at any sensible sort of time. Oh well. I'm still down the road and at the caving place before too long.

I wander up and ask about what's on offer, and plump for their five hour trip. It's due to leave pretty shortly, so I'm hustled down to the getting suited and booted area, and kitted out with wetsuit, boots, and climbing harness with all sort of paraphernalia hanging off it. Then it's a short minibus ride to the cave entrance.

The first step is a 25m abseil into the sinkhole. It's all good including a tight wriggle through the narrow bit while remembering to hang onto the right bits of string. Sadly there's only a limited amount of cliff to bounce off before I hit bottom.

The next item on the agenda is a zipslide in the complete dark into a Mysterious Cavern with glowworms the only visible reference points. The first victim is duly strapped in and flung off into the gloom. The screams fade away, to be followed by a great reverberating thump. We've barely recovered from the hilarity when the second punter's arrival is marked by a ker-splosh.

And then it's my turn to slide into oblivion. It's pretty magical actually, and our guides have run out of sound effects. And that's the last time we'll need the harness. Or at least the last time we'll use them. Now it's time for the wetsuits to step up.

We're charged with jumping off a ledge into the underground stream a couple of metres below using an inner tube for floatation. It's about as good an idea as it sounds - the rush of icy water literally takes my breath away.

We raft up and float gently down the cave for a bit, watching the be-glowwormed roof and trying at all costs to keep any extremities we'll need later out of the water. That turns out to be futile when we ditch the tubes and continue down river without them, sometimes wading and sometimes swimming.

After a while there's a confluence where we head up the new stream. It's much smaller and ends up in a tight squeeze into the plunge pool at the bottom of a waterfall, which we duly climb up. Another two waterfall climbs later, and we're on the surface. (And their 5 hour trip turns out to be more like 3 1/2).

Soup and bagels are laid on for the survivors, along with opportunities to invest in the photos. But for me at least, that's the end of the entertainment. It's a long tedious drive to Rotorua on the cards for me, happily topped with a curry and good motel.

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