|We stop off in a place called Hokitika, planning to stay the night and enjoy a whitebait fitter (local delicacy). We are planning to try and do something active the next day in Greymouth. After the white water rafting falling through and us not having enough time to make it to Kaikoura (lots of stuff to do there) we feel like we should do something else active before leaving. There's not much to Tika (as it's known) but we check the local tourist info place and the wifie explains about the Cave Rafting trip that we've been looking at. She also phones up to see if it's run early enough the next day for us to go. It is, and they have spaces.
We drive up to Greymouth and visit the tour folk. It's called Blackwater Rafting and basically you sit in a rubber ring and travel through some caves in the dark. Seems fine. We sign up for it and head back to the campervan site nearby.
Next day we're up and away early as it's a 8am start. There are 2 other Glaswegians and 2 Swiss up for it. Guide bint explains what we're to do. There is quite a lot of cave navigation and not that much rafting to be honest. In fact, if you were being harsh, you might say it was caving or potholing by another name with precious little rafting or water based activity in there. To go a stage further, it sounds not unlike the nonsense that Loudy had so enthused over from his visit to the north island (though at least there's no mention of abseiling). Laura is loooking nervous but we get wet-suited up and climb into the truck to take us to the start of the walk to the cave.
As we're hacking our way through the forest, guide bint is telling us how we're warm now but will be cold soon and we'll be scrambling over rocks and going under water. Laura is now looking extremely unchuffed and I'm casting my mind back to The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, one of my holiday books. He goes exploring caves for a laugh (as you do) gets lost and nearly dies. I have always viewed caving up there with mountain climbing in the category of "if you're stupid enough to do it you deserve all you get".
We get to the mouth of the cave and that's enough for Laura. No way, it's not happening. Guide bint leaves her with the phone and some chocolate as we head off underground. We do some scrambling over rocks on our way in, then she makes us fill our boots with freezing water, then we carry on. I'm coping OK at this stage before she makes us all join hands and submerge in the water so at the next bit won't come as too big a shock to our bodies (this is not good - really why I am doing this - because I've paid to).
The next bit involves sitting at the top of a waterfall and then dropping down into a pit, submerging completely for about 3 seconds. 3 folk do it and me and Swiss bloke go "er no... keep your waterfall of death". We clamber round and carry on down into the bowels of the earth. Guide bint tries to frighten us by telling us that there is an eel in one of the pools. We do the floaty floaty rubber ring bit in the absolute dark with a ceiling of glow worms and then start heading back. Towards the end you have the option of the normal route or the "Tunnel of Love", a hyper claustropobic passage with that is almost impossible, ending in the "rebirthing" exit. The 2 Glasgow punters and I go for it and escape unharmed at the end.
We meet up with Laura who has been doing exercises and singing songs from the Sound of Music in the forest to pass the time until our return. We head back to the tour base, have a jacuzzi with beer and muffins (yeah I thought it was weird too) and then get back in the van. When I tell Laura what she missed, she knows she made the right decision.