On the last day before I left NZ, I hoped on a bus and spent the day out at Waitomo. While there I visited three different caves, took lots of pictures and ended up hanging out with a girl from Chile who went to the same tours that I did. It was a great day and if you ever have the chance, you should check out Waitomo.
Waitomo Glow Worm Cave:
This was the first cave I went into. When you first enter, there are lots of low passages. All three of the caves have limestone formations in them, as well as stalagmites and stalactites. This cave did not have too many stalagmites and stalacties in the main part of the cave, but they could be seen. In one area of the cave, they called it the Cathedral because of the height of the cave from the floor, it resembled a cathedral. In the formations of the stones, you could see a pipe organ, an elephant and a bungee jumping Kiwi bird. The tour guide told us that many concerts had been performed in the cave due to its great acoustics and she even sang a little song for us – it was beautiful. then we went to see the glow worms, and unfortunately we couldn’t take pictures in this cave. There were thousands of glow worms on the cave ceiling. We learned that glow worms are really tiny and they basically sit on the ceilings and drop down silk threads to catch insects. The insects get stuck in the silk and then they are eaten. A glow worm lives for about 9 months and then goes into a cocoon to transform into almost like a moth or fly, where it has no mouth and its sole purpose is to reproduce before it dies. The brightness of the glow worm indicates its age – brighter means older and also they shine their light when they want to attract food. There were so many glow worms, they looked like stars. We were in a boat to see the worms but because the water had risen 5 metres because of all the rain, we did not get to see the whole part of the tour that was meant to be on the boat. It was amazing though.
This cave was the next one I visited. It was very cold in the cave because it was so far down from ground level. This cave had glowworms and thousands of beautiful stalactites and stalagmites. If you are only going to go to one cave while at Waitomo, this would be the one to see because it combines the Glow Worm Cave and the Aranui Cave.
This was the last cave I visited and it was probably the one I liked the most. It was probably the smallest cave and you hade to walk into the forest area to enter the cave. It was filled completely with stalactites and stalagmites and had great lighting and many levels we walked up to. Each of the caves had monitors to monitor the amount of CO2 coming into them because over time, high levels can cause damage to the caves and you weren’t allowed to touch anything because the oils on your hands left black marks on the limestone and there was a $10,000 fine.
They also had black water rafting – but I opted to stay dry during my time there. I did get dripped on in the caves though because of all the rain they had days before I visited. The tour guides were very knowledgable and made the tours interesting and they had a good sense of humour. The staff here were very helpful and even gave me a ride to the last cave because it was like a 15 minute walk and I didn’t have a car.
It was a great way to spend my last day in New Zealand and is a must do! More pictures will be on my Flickr page soon!