Our last year-of-travel post left us on our New Zealand roadtrip, having just driven through Egmont and the Awakino Gorge. From here we continued north, to New Zealand’s famous glowworm caves.
We spent our night camping outside this hostel in Waitomo. Remember last post when I mentioned that camping was very different in New Zealand compared to the United States? One of the major differences was the lack of actual campsites. Instead, New Zealand has dedicated spaces (like the area surrounding this hostel) where you pitch a tent. Camping this way, we never got to experience that feeling of seclusion, which made it a lot harder to lose ourselves in nature.
Thankfully, the nature is so pretty here that it makes up for the lack of seclusion. Here we are deep(ish) in the rainforest, at the entrance to New Zealand’s glowworm caves. There are several of these caves in the Waitomo district of New Zealand, the most famous being the Waitomo Glowworm Cave. Inna and I, however, decided to tour Footwhistle Glowworm Cave because the hostel we camped outside of recommended it.
On our way to the cave, our guide gave us editable rainforest leaves, and also took us by the waterfall pictured right.
Here we are, the entrance to Footwhistle. Footwhistle was very different that the previous cave we visited during our year of travel, and that’s even before its glowworms are taken into account.
Inside Footwhistle. No glowworms yet, but we can already see some stalactites.
We’ve found the glowworms. This picture features numerous silk strands hanging from glowworms on the ceiling of the cave. Glowworms use these strands to catch food, much the same way that spiders use spider webs.
Closeups of the silk strings. They were beautiful, but very weird!
By now you’re probably thinking, what exactly is a glowworm? According to our tour guide, glowworms (pictured above, although good luck finding them) are small transparent wireworms whose poop glows while inside its body. The glowing poop attracts insects that then get stuck in the worm’s wireweb, thus providing the worm food.
This is not the night sky, these are glowworms (or more specifically, glowing glowworm poop) under the ceiling of the cave with all the lights turned off. The glowworms were so weird, they were a wondrous and surreal sight.
We saw so many glowworms, at times it looked like we were viewing the entire milky way. Unfortunately, the darkness required to see them made it very difficult to take pictures, resulting in lots of photos that either didn’t turn out or are the same as the one shown previously. Because of this, we’ll move on to the actual cave, which is shown above.
A close up of some stalactites. I don’t know about you, but I find these a lot more creepy then I imagined they would look.
While our group was exploring Footwhistle on foot, this group went inner-tubing on the cave’s underground river. Their tour was more expensive than ours, but it also sounds amazing. Guess what we’ll be doing on our next visit!
Without any more pictures to show (we have a ton more but they’re all basically the same) it is time to move on from Footwhistle. This was definitely one of the strangest and most wondrous places I’ve ever been.
Outside the cave, a bunch of cows started staring at us. Ever have a group of cows atop a hill staring down at you? It was really strange!
Back at our hostel’s campground, a bunch of animals from a neighboring farm had come out.
Of all the farm animals, this deer was the best. She was beautiful, stunning, peaceful (this picture is not zoomed in, the deer really did get this close). Her eyes felt like they could pierce your soul.
I’m still not zooming in. The deer actually got closer than this; she let us pet her and then practically kissed me and my camera. Unfortunately none of the photographs at this distance turned out, but the experience was amazing. I could have spent all day here, if we didn’t have other places to go.
Leaving that deer was tough, but thankfully, our next destination was worth it. Remember two days ago, all the traffic we faced while leaving Wellington? Well, we got so fed up that we stopped at a bar, ordered some drinks, and waited the traffic out. This turned out to be a great decision, because while at the bar we met a New Zealand local and who, after hearing what we were doing, offered the guest room in her home to us should we stop by! And since she lived north of Waitomo (she was in Wellington visiting her son), her place was the perfect stop for the second night of our roadtrip.
We found this near the driveway as we pulled into the home. Anyone who owns artwork like this is totally awesome in our book.
This brings us to the end of this post, also the end of the second day of our roadtrip. Up next, we continue north, to Auckland and Kawakawa Bay, that latter of which contained one of the most unique and breathtaking beaches Inna and I had ever seen.