Mary & Jeff - To Oz and Beyond! travel blog

Rock noses

Limestone curtains in the cave


Lots more stalactites

and more!

and again more (lighting was designed by a photographer)

A very large stalagmite

And it all starts with a drip

There have been some land claim issues!

Some babies just getting a hold (1" each 500 years)

The 65 metre spiral down to the start of the walk

We're awake early, but hear the pitter patter of rain and it's dark... So we have a coffee and a hot cross bun. Niagara Falls it seems, but we must get on the road. The initial goal is Te Kuiti and Niagara Falls becomes a bit more aggressive. We reflect a bit on our visit to Rotorua as we take a last tour of the city. Really, you could easily spend a week here, but we've identified the Waitomo Caves as a place we want to visit, reinforced by an article in the airplane magazine on the way over from Melbourne. As Jeff drives along, I'm checking out the countryside and I find it's a bit of a contradiction. I see coloured trees like the Ontario fall, but then there is the vibrant green of an Ontario spring. Newly planted fields attract my attention. At home (in Lyons) fields are pretty flat. Here, they are a whole different story. I cannot imagine driving a tractor (and I do like to do that!) planting a field of anything here! The hills are much too steep!

At Dunham Point we're off the "red" (read GOOD roads) and on to the "yellow". From Altiamuri to Mangakimo it's mostly straight. The rain has disappeared and there are hummocks rising as much as 50 feet dotting the gently rolling hills. I guess the good news on this road is that although it's VERY narrow, you really can't go anywhere because there are rock faces on each side. What ARE these logging trucks doing on these roads?

The excitement grows....why is there a goat with four legs pointing up in the ditch? Now we're in Bennydale, it's half-way to Te Kuiti and there's only one 45 kph turn so far. Two hours and 10 minutes, we've travelled 150 km since we left Rotorua...I think it's marginally better than commuting in Toronto! But Niagara Falls has increased 10-fold - it is pouring cats and dogs....or is that kiwis and keas???

Hey Sandy, I see an SJ Henderson sign and think of you! How's the PL roll going? Have you had to overrule Phil yet?

We're back on a "red" road....all right!!!! What's going on here? First we see the goat with four legs pointing up and now I see two cows (well, I'm not close enough to determine that!) legs up!!! Could it be something to do with all the signs we see for "Home (sorry kids) Kill"

OK, on to more pleasant topics...We're at the Waitomo Cave is really pouring and we're at the bottom of the parking lot. Perhaps it's time for a snack before we tackle the hill up to the site office. Ready, set, go!!! We opt for the duo - glowworm caves and Ruakuri. There are lots of other possibilities, including black water rafting, but we think we've chosen the best for us. Glowworm caves, well, to be honest, it's just OK...there's a bit of guided tour and then the rafting through the glowworm site. That's the point when the baby (sorry Ian, but Great Uncle Jeff and I thought of you at this time), started to fuss. The Guide had just told us that 'quiet' was preferred. Now, having said that, the glowworms did NOT stop glowing because of the baby's cries! But, the poor parents!!! No pictures are allowed, but they snap a group photo at the end that you can purchase for $30 NZ (we opted out).

The Ruakuri cave tour is superb! We had a little van tour to the site and there were only 13 of us. We gather under the clearly fake entrance and then the fun begins. It is very dark inside. The guide lights up first one, then two, then three, then four and more rows of subdued lights to show us where we are going - 65 metres under ground. At the bottom, you can dip your hands into a bit of water from a stone, to keep you safe from those who wish to take souls while you tour the caves....after all, legend has it that it's a one-way trip in! After that, it's all in the pictures you'll see. Truly a worthwhile experience that you won't forget! AND, you can take pictures...oh, did you have a hint already?

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