Erin, Tyler and I all got a good solid night of sleep, but we were all
up early due to the time zone change. The owners of the bed and
breakfast we were staying at had mentioned that there was a short walk
to see some glowworms just a mile or two from our room and had
suggested we go after dark. Since we had all fallen asleep very
early, that didn't happen, but I realized since it was about 5:00 when
we woke up, we'd have time to go see the glowworms before
sunrise. We quietly got ready to go so we wouldn't wake up my
parents in the next room. (We found out later they were already
up and we should have gotten them to go with us.) We got in the
van and drove a few minutes to the start of the trail. We used
headlamps to guide ourselves down the trail. It was pretty eerie
walking through the trail in the dark in a very unfamiliar
forest. We managed to scare a possum and he took off down the
trail. It only took about 5 to 10 minutes to get to a bridge that
crossed the river. We knew the glowworms would be down by the
river, so we turned our lights
off and let our eyes adjust to the darkness. We could see tons of
stars in the clear night sky and the Milky Way was clearly
visible. After about a minute, we started to notice the glowworms
on the side of the riverbank. They were really cool to see, but
almost impossible for me to photograph. I tried numerous
different settings on my camera, but the best I came up with was this:
Bad shot of glowworms
We stayed and looked at the glowworms for awhile then headed back to
the hotel for breakfast. We met up with my parents and had some
breakfast. We were going to go to the glowworm caves as our first
activity of the day and already had purchased our tickets. You
can purchase discounted tickets online here before
you go. The tickets were about $180NZ for the five of us with the
online discount. The tickets were open to any tour during the
day, but we had read that it got pretty busy later in the day as the
tour buses arrived, so we decided to shoot for the first tour at 9:00
am. After breakfast, we had a little bit of time before our tour,
so Tyler got to play with some of the toys that they had to use at the
B&B. I think it was exactly what Tyler needed after the long
travel and sightseeing day before.
We drove to the caves and waited for our tour. I will give you a
word of warning, the parking lot there is extremely steep. Since
it was empty, I parked on the flat part on the bottom and we headed up
to wait for our tour. The tour was about 45 minutes. It
started off a little slow because the actual cave that you go to see
isn't anything all that special if you've been to other caves.
But after about 10 minutes we were seeing the larvae of the
glowworms. They don't allow you to take any pictures in the
caves, so you'll have to look at their website
for pictures of the caves. Once you get into the boats, they ask
you to be quiet so you don't disturb the glowworms. We pushed off
from the dock and went into the main glowworm chambers. I only
have one word to describe the experience, AMAZING! I've never
seen anything like it in my life. Everyone was astonished.
It looked just like a starry sky, but you were underground in a
cave. If you ever go to New Zealand, you really need to go to at
least one glowworm cave. The Waitomo Caves are the most famous,
but there are others that you can find. The tour lasts about 45
minutes and then you simply row out of the cave in the boat. It
is a short walk back to the gift shop where we got some postcards and
stamps. Tyler got 1 for his friend and 1 for his class. We
mailed them a day or two later, but they both took 2-3 weeks to get
back to Iowa.
Our next stop was the Raukuri Bush Walk. This was the same trail
that we went on to see the glowworms that morning. We wanted to
do it because it was a nice short walk that everyone could do and it
was supposed to be very scenic. It looked a lot different during
the daytime. We could see the dense forest as we walked down the
trail. I grabbed several shots of the forest and some of the rock
formations we saw.
Views from the Raukuri Bushwalk
The trail itself was very fun. It had lots of small hills, caves,
and views of the stream. Eventually we came to a large
cave/natural bridge with the stream running through it. We also
found a really large tree.
More awesome sights on the trail.
We continued on the trail and looped around back to the start. On our
way back we noticed some people climbing up out of one of the
caves. There are a lot of other tours available at the Waitomo
Caves. Most of them involve getting wet and a lot more adventure
than we could do with the five of us. These people were just
getting done with their tour.
People on a more adventurous cave tour than we took.
Overall, the trail took us maybe 30-60 minutes, but it was a great
little trail, and I'd highly recommend it to anyone. Here's
a few more pictures:
More views from the Raukuri Bushwalk.
After the bushwalk, we headed off towards Marokopa Falls.
Marokopa is often said to be the prettiest falls on the north
island. It was about 45 minutes west of Waitomo Caves. As
we were driving, we had to stop for a few minutes for some farmers to
move their sheep across the road.
Sheep traffic jam.
We got to the parking lot for the falls. It was a much smaller
parking lot than I was expecting. It is about a 10 minute walk
down to the falls. Tyler had fallen asleep on the drive to the
falls and we couldn't wake him up, so we went to the falls in
shifts. We were not disappointed in the falls, they were very
Beautiful Marokopa Falls.
We had one last stop after the falls before we started the drive to
hour hotel for the night. There was another little trail on the
road west of Waitomo Caves that had a natural bridge and some
fossilized oysters on it.
Views from along the trail.
It only took about 5 or 10 minutes until we got to the natural bridge.
As soon as we got through the natural bridge, the views changed
The fossilized oysters were in some large rocks. Overall, the
trail was great, especially for how short it was, but the oysters
weren't that interesting to me. I would recommend doing it for
the views and the natural bridge.
We got back into the van and drove to National Park Village. We
spent the next two nights at the
We had two adjoining rooms booked for a total cost of $295NZ. We
got into National Park Village just before dinner time, checked in and
went to dinner. We had a little bit of time after dinner so we
took a quick walk around the small town. We got a weather report
from the hotel manager and then headed off to bed.
Continue to Day 3
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