The day started with brekkie at Café One 2 One, with mocha, cappuccino and a plate with sautéed mushrooms on toast and a little soft butter on the side. I don’t know what it is about their toast and mushrooms, almost every breakfast joint gets it right, actually more than just right.
After a satisfying meal, we started driving towards the Waitomo Glowworm caves. The drive was a long, albeit a beautiful one. With agricultural farmlands and rolling green hills, the vistas are blissfully relaxing.
Every now and then, we saw herds of sheep on the farm, looking like white dots randomly sprinkled on the green rolling hills. They were either happily sleeping or constantly feeding on the grass.
We stopped at a few places to take a closer look at these sheep. When we got to the edge of the farms, the sheep got panicky and ran away from us, but still cautiously looking at us to see what we were up to. An evidence that parts of New Zealand are still untouched.
We also passed by a few deer farms. I’ve never seen a deer farm, so it was pretty cool to see these deers with huge antlers.
Half way through the drive, we were hungry – again! So we stopped at Persimmon Tree Café for cappuccino and a potato rosti. Poached eggs and spinach were neatly arranged on a bed of crunchy potato rosti. Yummm.
After a sumptuous meal, we continued our drive to the famous Waitomo Glowworm Caves. As we drove into the parking lot, it started to pour heavily. But it was okay because the Glowworm caves are indoors anyways.
After getting the tickets, we waited for the tour to begin. New Zealand is one of those places where you’ll experience all the seasons in a single day, actually within a few hours. Sometimes, the day starts out rainy and gloomy and within a matter of hours, the sun pierces through those dark clouds and makes the place warm and sunny again. One always needs to be prepared with umbrella, jackets and summer wear!
And in general, it rains a lot in New Zealand and the Waitomo glowworm visitor center was well-prepared with a huge awning providing the much needed umbrella for us all.
Our tour started with a cheerful guide welcoming us and giving us a history of how these caves were discovered. The local Maori people were aware of the existence of these caves a while ago. However, an Extensive exploration of these caves began in the late 1800s when a local Maori Chief and an English surveyor discovered the beauty of these dark caves that were lit just by the glowworms. Eventually, they became open to the public and tours are organized to allow visitors enjoy the same.
While walking through the dark caves, rejig your memory of stalactite and stalagmite formations, and how they connect each other, forming pillars. To this day, you can see fossils of marine organisms, when these caves were submerged in the ocean millions of years ago.
The tour ends with a short boat tour via the Glowworm grotto – here’s the chance to see long stretches of darkness inside the caves, which are purely lit by the greenish blue lights emitted by the glowworms, which look like stars in the sky. It was a lovely experience quietly sailing on the boat and watching the work of these glowworms illuminating the ceiling. By the way, photography is not allowed inside the caves, so you can only get a picture as you exit them.
After watching the country’s famous glowworm caves, we continued our drive to Rotorua, the Sulphur city, making a quick pit stop at Tirau, popular for local art works made out of corrugated iron.
Two of the most popular artworks are the giant dog artwork, which is actually Tirau’s visitor center and the big sheep artwork featuring a number of artwork inside.