Monday, June 13, 2016

Day 2: Temple and Glow Worm Caves

This Day started early but it felt so good to get a full nights sleep. Even though with the time difference we were waking up at 5am and feeling like it was time to go.

We headed out cause Tasha has us on a very tight schedule. Justified, we have some awesome plans for this day!
Our first destination was Hamilton, we wanted to do a session in the New Zealand Temple. Driving there we were not sure if the GPS was bringing us to the right place because we thought the temple would be in a more populated area but we were mostly driving through farmland. The area was beautiful though, there were green hills everywhere and they were sectioned off with real hedge rows! Like in England but greener!
We arrived at the temple just in time, the temple reminded me a lot of the temple in Switzerland but this one didn't have a Moroni on the top. The temple was really pretty inside too, Murals on the walls were all in high tones so it looked like you were walking in a misty tropical paradise. Absolutely beautiful.
Keeping to schedule, we headed toward Waitomo, as we drove we saw a Kiwi house along the way which was actually close to our hotel so we decided to go their tomorrow. Look forward to that :) We also stopped for lunch and tried food that is very popular in New Zealand. Dad got some fish and chips from this sketchy corner store and Mom and Tasha went to a Minced pie place. I also got something from the minced pie place. Normally I wouldn't go near a minced pie but mine had a nice dollop of mashed potato that made it look quite appetizing. Turned out really tasty too! We got a couple of caramel pie desserts which we all shared cutting them into quarters.
On the road, I am still amazed at how rural everything is, there are farmlands everywhere. With all kinds of animals. So many cows, I'm reminded of Idaho! There are even cows that look like oreo cookies because they are all black except for one large stripe down their middle. We also saw a ton of sheep, donkeys, pigs, chickens, and horses, and basically all the horses had raincoats on. A little weird but maybe they needed it.
We continued onto our journey and arrived at Waitomo Caves. This was amazing! We went to two caves the first was Ruakuri, and the second was the Glowworm Caves. Both were spectacular!
At Ruakuri, we were able to walk through these ancient cave system which had amazing rock formations. I like our guide, Sam, he was very down to earth. He shared a lot of great information including the story behind the cave's name:
 The cave's name means dog spirit cave; the story goes that a local Maori war party was passing the mouth of the cave when a group of dogs ran out and scared the group back to the village. The chief thinking that it wasn't a good thing that his war party would be scared so easily he sent the group back to kill the dogs and to bring them back. They did that and the chief skinned the dogs and created a cloak that he would wear when he went into battle. While wearing the cloak he never lost a battle. And when he passed away his remains and the cloak were returned to the cave entrance.
We continued in the cave where we got to see some unique rock formation, including curtain stalactites, coral stalagmites and our first glimpses of glow worms. Which are actually maggots that glow only because their poop has bio-luminesces and the reason they glow is because they want to lure other bugs up to them. Together they look like the night sky (but green) other little flies see that and fly up to them and then get caught it the maggot's silk string they let down. When their caught the maggot pulls them us and devours them by burrowing into the poor flies brains. Yeah, cute glow worms huh?

 Curtain stalactites

here you can see the strings (couldn't get a pic of the glow,sorry)

As we continued we got to a chamber called the 'pretties'; yeah very creative name but it was quite cool. Also side note, we were not allowed to touch anything! there was a $10,000 fine if we in any way damaged the formations. So look, don't touch!

After Ruakuri, we did the tour of the actually glow worm cave, the Waitomo Cave. And this one was cool! We started out walking into this huge chamber about the size of a cathedral and they would actually have concerts in the place because it was so good at that sound thingy. Whatever lets get to the glow worm part. We had to get in a boat and we were told we had to be very quiet. Our guide, Chris (yeah new guide, the caves had two different owners) pulled us along the underground river, we were in pitch blackness except for the millions of glow worms above us. It was amazing, they were covering the ceiling and it was so quiet and dark. There were a couple of areas we had to duck to get through which just made that much more an adventure. I tried to take pictures of it but yeah they just turn out black. Sorry.
We were the last group that went through and it was a good thing too cause, it started to downpour again, and I mean buckets of water was coming out of the sky. We headed to our hotel and looked for a place to eat. We finally found a Chinese take out. I got some good wonton soup. We also went to the grocery store, one of the few places that doesn't close so early. I was able to find Manuka honey, which is a New Zealand specialty. It has a different taste to it, kinda tart. Also we went crazy buying up medicine, I'm still sick at this point and have had enough of it.
Till tomorrow, Adventure is out there!

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