Waitomo, New Zealand 2010 – Day 18 & 19


So it turns out I hurt my foot surfing yesterday. I feel like the over use of landed on my toes from Badminton and volleyball has caught up to me especially banging it on a board barefoot for a hour.

We woke up, packed and was out the door by 745AM to drive down south 30 minutes or so arrive at Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Park (201 Waiotapu Loop Rd, Rotorua 3073, New Zealand) (32.50NZD). Our schedule was pretty tight if we wanted to fit in all we wanted to do before driving back to Auckland to catch our flight out.

The park opened at 830AM and started walking through around 9AM.  The park has 25 different thermal pools – all different. It was pretty cool with a variety of natural colours with bubbling and gargling. Of course, it stenched of sulphur. My favourite without a doubt was the Champagne Pool. It is enormous, and all you can see from a distance is steam but up close there is a outstanding orange/red colour with blue/ green water. There was also a naturally highlighted green pool of water. We walked the park for a good 1-2 hours. The Lady Knox geyser erupts everyday at 1015AM but since we needed to drive 2 hours west to get to Waitomo for our cave tour/trip we left early.

It rained today and I had to drive in it on some crazy roads. I tell you, I’d take Toronto roads any day – less curves. After 2 hours of driving, we arrived at Waitomo just in time for our tour and 5 minutes to grab some lunch. The first cave we went to was Ruaruki Cave also known as the Den of the Dogs – The Maori people named this area after the animals they found there. Our guide Lucas was actually apart of the design process behind this 4.2 million dollar creation. It features a huge cylinder that you walk down into another section that is very James Bond like and then he leads you along the cave. This cave is 100% wheelchair accessible as well and without knowing it, you walk 2KM. He also explained glowworms and showed them to us. The glowworms are actually larvae or maggot stage of a fly and the glow is the mixture of enzymes and their excretions – yup its a fecal matter mixture. The fly only lives for about a week and then reproduces hundreds of eggs at a time. Much like a spider, they glowworm drop up to 20 lines of webs to catch their food.

We then drove out to Arnaui Caves which is a smaller cave but nonetheless has the best view. Sadly, it was just Andrew and myself for the second cave and our guide Christian who thought we we’re “together”… But since it was just us 2 and the guide, we talked and sorted things out. At least today is the last day for that to happen… problems travelling with a sibling of a different gender eh. This cave was discovered later than the other two by a farmer who was chasing a wild pig that ended up in that undiscovered cave. There aren’t any glowworms in this cave as there are no rivers running through and an earthquake shut out the main source of water that helped create the formations.

Our last cave for the day was the glowworms cave – Waitomo Caves and let me tell you, our group was small but a mighty good time. There were 3 from England – Charlie, Ben and cannot recall the lady’s name. They had arrived 2 days ago in New Zealand and take the blame for bringing the wet weather. They had previously visited the caves in the 70’s or 80’s. They might of been a older bunch, but they were great for laughs. We were also joined by another Canadian! This time from Saskatoon but since people have no idea of anywhere in Canada besides Vancouver or Toronto, she tells people Toronto. In this cave in particular no photography is allowed so we left out cameras behind. My favourite formation in the cave was one that looked like a kiwi doing a bungee jump. The boat ride was spectacular and felt very Alice in Wonderland-like as you sailed on. The guide would show us the glowworms and then shine a light on them showing their true form which make them less mystical.  I wish brought my camera anyways because at the end, we went lower into the river where the caverns were first discovered. The sight of a thousand glowworms lighting up the ceiling was an amazing sight to be seen.

We finished the caves and back on the road by 455PM. Drove into Auckland by 7-715PM and are basically staying in the airport until check-in. Our flight is at 7AM. It is now 215AM and there are sleeping bags and people sprawled all over the place. I didn’t sleep. The check in desks opened around 4AM and we checked in. Got on the plane by 630AM and flew over to Sydney by 925AM (NZ time). We gain 2 hours flying back to Sydney (725AM AUS). Since we don’t have a re-entry visa for Australia we cannot leave the airport to have a final dinner with uncle Ronald and auntie Maisie but instead, we landed in Sydney and were trapped in the international terminal awaiting our flight to connect to back home. I barely slept on the flight from Sydney To Vancouver – 15 & half hours. 4 hours more in the air and finally arrive back in Toronto.