Did you know that glowworms actually exist? . . .they are not just those plastic light up dolls that you slept with as a child…read on to find out more ☺
3/13/11 - 3/14/11
So, being that our last entry was pretty heavy on the text, we thought we would give our loyal readers a break and convey our cave experience mainly with pictures. Plus, Marin took some amazing shots from inside the magnificent Waitomo Caves. First, just a bit of background about the caves. Waitomo, a small town on New Zealand’s North Island, is home to over 300 natural caves. Only about ¼ of the 300 caves are open to the public. We visited 3 of these underground wonders... most tourists opt for 1 cave visit, or maybe 2…but Marin insisted upon the cave TRIPLE PACK. Turned out to be pretty sweet.
The caves form over millions of years as groundwater from above seeps through the earth and glazes over the limestone below. Beautiful formations, known as stalactites (these columns grow down from the roof of the cave, they hold on “tite…” get it? get it?) and stalagmites (these columns grow upward from the base of the cave..they “mite” reach the ceiling…get it? get it?) are created by the water. They form verrryyy slllloowwwly –about 1 cm of growth every 100 years. Take a look at what knocked our socks off 65 meters below the surface of the earth (first photo is of the ramp going down into the 1st cave)
We could not believe that these gorgeous structures were created naturally by flowing water over rock! They looked as if someone had molded and shaped them by hand.
These caves are also home to many, many, many glowworms. They attach themselves to the roof of the cave and live there for the majority of their 11-month life span. What our awesome tour guide let us in on is that these bioluminescent worms actually create a lovely blue glow from their tail end when they are, um, pooping. It was thought by some that “Incredible Pooping Maggot Caves!” would not draw the same crowd that “Stunning Glowworm Caves” would. Right on, then.
The loveliest part of the cave prohibited pictures (the glowworms dim when subjected to bright light, like say the flashbulbs of hundreds of tourists), which was initially discouraging but then wonderful. We took a boat in pitch blackness through an underground river while above us billions and millions of blue glowworms glowed away on the cave’s roof. Very Willy Wonka, except peaceful instead of terrifying. Felt like we were in a planetarium…but it was all natural…again unbelievable!
Tune in next time for our sorrowful farewell to the country of New Zealand (already planning our next rip back to the most beautiful place on earth) and our warm, rainy welcome to Tasmania (the beginning of our stint in Australia) ☺