Auckland to Rotorua
Before leaving Auckland we had a very quick guided tour of the musem. An excellent museum and very well laid out – one that you could have spend a full day at.
We then travelled on to Waitomo which we reached late afternoon for a cave tour and a visit to the glowworms. We got taken in 2 smaller mini buses along a farm track to the start of a cave with various stalactites and stalagmites. We went into the cave for about half a kilometre then back out again. We saw the wheta – a large cricket like insect that lives in the caves during the day and then goes out to feed at night. There were also a few glow-worms in the cave and the remains (skeletons) of various animals including the now extinct moa (bird similar to the ostrich but bigger).
We came out of that cave and sat in a small clearing for tea and biscuits which were supplied by the guide, and then went to see their pet eels. There was the dominant eel waiting under a rock and he cut off a small piece of meat from a bone and the eel took it from him. Within seconds 2 more eels appeared from further down the river (apparently having smelt the blood of the meat through the water) and moved towards us only to be snapped at by the dominant eel and they hastily retreated.
We then donned helmets with lights (Pete put his on the wrong way round frst!)and went into the cave with the glow-worms. We had our lights on to walk along a path and get into an inflatable then we switch off our head torches and could see thousands of glow-worms really dazzling above us. The guide ferried us to and fro along the water for about 10 minutes and all the while our eyes adjusted more and more to the darkness. We were then allowed to take pictures but without flash. Looking at the couple of photos I took – they just look black!
On the way out of the cave he showed us a glow-worm and its sticky web like tendrils in the light of a torch and it didn't look anything like you would expect. This was the cave that was used by David Attenborough when he filmed the glow-worms.
We then carried on to Rotorua which we could smell before we could see it from all the thermal activity round about. We stayed at the Kingsgate Hotel and had our dinner from the buffet (not particularly very good but fine when you arrive late).