New Zealand - Day 25After checking out of Jasmine Court we drove straight to the ferry terminal, dropped off our car, and checked in. A dense fog hung over Picton so we couldn't see more than 100ft in front of us, but apparently the ship was still sailing. An incident free ferry journey and we were in Wellington again, but not to stay this time. As soon as we had our car we headed north for a long drive to Waitomo which took the rest of the day. Waitomo doesn't have much choice for places to stay, so we picked the YHA Kiwi Paka, a backpacker place but very clean and we had a chalet to ourselves. A freaky pizza for supper (chicken, satay, peanuts, chili sauce) and an early night for us.
New Zealand - Day 26
We breakfasted early in the Kiwi Paka restaurant then headed out to Waitomo Caves. We didn't have time to do the blackwater rafting so we picked the basic walking tour which includes a boat ride through the glow-worm caves.
The caves were amazing, big caverns filled with stalactites, stalagmites and other formations, acoustically perfect caverns (called the Cathedral cavern, where many singing stars have performed concerts) and of course the glow-worms. They are the larval form of a fly. They cling to the roof of the caves, emitting light and dropping sticky strands down. Other insects fly towards the light, get trapped in the strands and get eaten by the glow-worms. The cavern we floated through was completely dark, except for the thousands of glow-worms lining the roof. The guide stamped his foot a few times and the glow-worms got brighter (he made them shit themselves was his explanation...), bright enough for us to see the boat and each other. There were only four of us on this tour, us and a couple from Victoria, so we also got to see a restricted area of the cave called the organ loft.
From that cave we drove a little further to the Aranui cave, which doesn't have glow-worms but has many more impressive formations and some big weta, a native insect. We were joined by a few more people on this tour, including a family from England who were taking a year off to school the 3 children in geography and culture by travelling around the south pacific.
Before we left Waitomo we went on the bush walk, 30 minutes of lush rainforest and the roaring waitomo river below us.
One final stop to see some angora bunnies and we were heading north again, heading for Auckland to catch our flight home tomorrow.