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  • Writer's pictureTim and Lindsey

The Light at the End of the Tunnel (Day 96)

Updated: Feb 20, 2018

Sometimes we have a perception of what we can or cannot do. In one moment this can all change. From hating cold water, in a flash, I am walking through a cold, wet and dark cave.

I really do not like cold water. Even going to an indoor heated swimming pool it can take me ages to get it, one toe, then another, I may then dangle my feet in, think about it for a while and then eventually take a deep breath and jump in. It’s the same with the sea – that’s if I attempt to go in at all. It's amazing how, in one moment, all can change.

Yesterday Robin took us on a lovely drive, we stopped off at @Sheffield Pie Shop - 'The Famous' to get our lunch, pies of course, then onto our destination through Arthur’s Pass to Devil Punchbowl Waterfall. On our way we saw a number of Kea, (the only alpine parrots in the world) which are known for attacking people’s car trims especially windscreen wiper blades. They were a lot bigger than I expected, must be all that rubber they eat. Quite dull in colour until they spread their wings.

We wandered through ancient beech forest with soft green moss, sooty mould fungi and old man’s beard lichen hanging off the branches and climbed up 150m to the base of this spectacular waterfall. Robin zoomed off track at the end of the path, he must have been itching to go, like a wound-up toy as he had been patiently walking up at my snail’s pace. He is a tiny dot in the photo to the right of the waterfall!

On our drive back, we passed a sign for Cave Stream Scenic Reserve. Tim said “Aren’t we going to visit that?” so Robin kindly turned round. After the pouring rain at Arthur’s pass, it was nice to be in the warmth of the sun. We read a notice that said that you can walk through the cave passage which meanders and twists in pitch darkness between the two entrances, and found the track to the cave, passing wild ox-eye daisies and blue lupins whilst skidding down the scree path. There was a huge opening to the cave. Walking in, 2 bats screeched to greet us. I was expecting a nice dry cave….mmm the name Cave Stream hadn’t registered in my mind – so was disappointed to see the waist high stream.

Robin plopped in and walked down into the cave, round a corner out of sight. “What a shame”, I said to Tim, “We won’t be going in there”. Tim and I are developing a new website called “GrownupTravellers” to share and inspire people like us to travel. I pondered that we had better explain that it’s not for the adventurous type that abseil, climb and go down waist-deep wet caves. More refined travellers of a certain age.

Robin returned “The water’s not cold” he announced. “yer, sure” I thought – the water is coming down from the top of the mountain. I felt it and to my surprise, it wasn’t as cold as I expected. And in one moment, without thinking, I was in! Yes, I had got in waist deep into this cold water!! I don’t think Tim and Robin could believe it – I couldn’t! Tim joined me, he led the way with Robin at the back with the 1 headlight between us, and, bless him, holding my hand a lot of the way, guiding me across the rocks, boulders and up the short waterfalls.

Wow! It was incredible. The rock formation was amazing, through limestone where the water had made holes and weird sculptured formations. A baby eel wriggled past us and later a large spider viewed us high up on the rock wall. The walk did go on for quite some time and I did wonder if we had missed a turning. We all had it in our head that it was 100m long – (later discovered that the notice said it was 594 m).

Tim turned a corner and suddenly could see the light at the end of the tunnel – literally! We entered a small pool joining a few fish and then nearly missed the metal rung ladder to assist us climbing out the end. Later there was a chain and steps kindly put there to help us get along the overhang ledge to the exit.

A group hug when we reached the outside, 3 very wet happy people got in the car for the 100km journey back here. A day to remember for a very long time – and perhaps an experience that has encouraged me to be more adventurous – we shall see.

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