Thursday, March 19, 2015

On th Road Again ...

A view into the entrance
Now we are off to the southern part of North Island. Everyone has a suggestion of where we should go and what we should see and do. The focus of this country is on outdoor activities: tramping (hiking), water sports of all kinds, thrill adventure sports (bungee jumping, sky diving, jet boat trips, etc.) and air trips by plane or helicopter to see the two glaciers (Franz Joseph and Fox) and Mt. Cook. Soaking in the hot mineral springs is more our speed – at least I thought it would be!

Our first adventure was to the Glowworm Caves in Waitomo, described as “a lost subterranean world that is both eerie and captivating” in south central North Island. The Glowworm Caves are on the 101 Must-Do’s for Kiwis List. There are a number of caves in the area for exploring. Most require a major amount of walking and climbing, as well as ducking. Larry has had a double knee replacement in the past 18 months, so we limited the activities that required a lot of walking. The tour takes only 45 minutes and part of the Glowworm Cave tour is in a boat. The guides are ancestors of the Maori chief who originally explored the cave and they enthusiastically share the culture and history of the area.
The ceiling near the exit
While the cave itself was interesting, its beauty was nothing comparable to the caves on the island of Niue. What was interesting was the central area of the cave, the Cathedral Cave, where the acoustics are perfect. So much so that a number of recording artists have held concerts in it. It was interesting to see how the cave continues to actively develop. And the temperature and humidity are ideal inside the cave. The Glowworm Caves tours have been guided since the late 1880’s and are known as the original New Zealand attraction!
Our guide pulled the boat along a cable
over his head so there was no engine noise.
The glowworms were interesting! There were thousands of them. They were a fluorescent green color and were hanging from the ceiling of the cave like 4-6 inch icicles. We first saw them from a viewing area above the river that runs through the cave. Then we boarded boats and were slowly and quietly pulled through the cave on the river.

Looking up, we could see glow worms everywhere above us. Creepy but beautiful! No photos were allowed in the cave so I only got at shot as we were leaving when the guide said it was okay. In the end, it was very interesting, not creepy and definitely worth the stop to see it.

A view of the cave exit area.
We continued on to Rotorua for a couple of days in the Maori villages and mineral hot springs. Dennis plans to get a tattoo here when we make our return trip north. We have the name of the tattoo artist he wants to meet. Since our trip is somewhat limited in time by Vicki and Larry's flight home, we won't use this time for the tattoo.

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