Our last tour day in included a visit to the glow worm caves at Waitomo. I hadn’t thought too much about what that meant, exactly. And sometimes not having any pre-conceived ideas leads to great surprises.
The rock in this area is limestone, and it has been carved away by water over the millennia, leaving a system of caves. First up – down a long flight of stairs:
The glow worms were not what I thought. In the utter darkness we realized that the ceiling was covered in tiny dots of blue lights. The worms are the larval form of a fly – they live in the dark, above water. Each worm spins down a silk like thread. When another bug stumbles into the filament the worm reels up its dinner. Eventually they spin a cocoon, emerge as a fly, mate and die. All in the dark.
Truly, nature is full of wonders.
Needless to say pictures of the glow worms are just a field of black. They’re not that bright! Or should I say brightly lit.
See, not super helpful. A few tiny dots…
There was low lighting throughout, so we could see to dine our way, especially once our eyes adjusted. From time to time the guide would turn off the lights so we could experience the dark, and the glow. She also demonstrated the magnesium lights used in the pre-electric days.
Being a limestone cave there are both stalactites and stalagmites.
Before we headed back to the bus we stopped for a spot of kawakawa tea, made from one of the local shrubs. They have the cutest little tea house at the top of the very long stairs back up from the cave.
Just up the road was a bird sanctuary, where we stopped to see the national bird, the kiwi. Kiwis are nocturnal, so our viewing was under very low light conditions. But we did see a pair. Here’s a statue to give you an idea of what they are like.