The South of North Island

After Tongariro, Nathalie wanted to see the Waitomo Caves and I couldn’t say no! Waitomo Caves are famous for its impressive stalactites and stalagmites but what it makes these caves unique are its glow worms. These bugs exist only in New Zealand and have luminescent organs that produce a greenish light. The bugs hang from the caves’ ceilings on sticky threads and catch and eat insects attracted by its light.

There are three caves to visit in the same area but the tickets a little bit pricey so Nathalie chose to visit the Glowworm Cave. After a first part admiring its geology we could see the famous glow worms for the first time. When the lights were on, the hanging threads were visible like a beautiful curtain and when our guide turned the lights off, the threads disappeared to make room for thousands of glowing points . . . fantastic!

But the best part was the mini boat trip along the Waitomo River, admiring in silence the myriad of glow worms hanging from the ceiling . . . it was an unique experience.

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Photos are not allowed inside the Waitomo Caves but you can see how this tour looked like on their website:

http://www.waitomo.com/Glowworm-Caves/Pages/Waitomo-Glowworm-Caves-Photo-Gallery.aspx

After visiting the caves I convinced Nathalie to do the short hike starting just behind the visitor center. This Waitomo Walkway follows Waitomo Stream to Ruakuri Scenic Reserve. It was a beautiful scenic hike (5km, 3hrs return) through the rain forest with caves (without glow worms but for free!) all along the route. Walkways along the rocks above the rushing waters gave us a perfect vantage point of the caves and the river gully.

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Back to the campsite, we prepared another barbecue to finish the day with style 😀

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The following day we left Waitomo direction to Roturua, the most dynamic thermal area in New Zealand. We never reached our final destination because at Waikite Valley we found a cool campsite with thermal baths included in the price and once we started trying its different pools, ranging from 35C to 40C . . . well, after all those hikes we deserved a “doing nothing” day like that! 😉

Waikite Valley’s baths receive the boiling waters of Te Manaroa Spring, the largest single source of 100% pure boiling water in New Zealand. To cool down the 98C spring water, they make it run over a series of cascades and some of the cooled water is then recirculated and sprayed into the air to allow further cooling until water reaches 35 to 40C. Amongst all the pools, I set my base camp inside the 37 comfortable degrees pool and I did not move until my skin got wrinkly 😀

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Apart from the baths, it was interesting to visit the Eco Trail, also inside the campsite, to see the Te Manaroa Spring. Nathalie did not believe me when I told her it was only a 15 min walk but at the end I convinced her to come and she also enjoyed the walk, lol

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The last day around Roturua was spent visiting Wai O Taupu Theme Park, one of the most active volcanic areas in the world. We could see a lot of interesting geothermal features in a relatively small area, with funny names like Champagne Pool or Devil’s Ink. At 10.15am how their local geyser (Lady Know Geyser) spouted off in a kind of show for kids.

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 My Tips :

  • Waikite Valley campsite has not the best facilities of NZ but it was one of the least expensive campsites plus the entrance to the thermal pools was included in the price. A cool choice to spend a relaxing day!
  • Waitomo Top 10 Holiday Park, close to the caves, was one of the best campsites of my NZ trip. It also has a swimming pool and a beautiful barbecue area.

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2 comments

    • josep on 10 February 2015 at 09:00

    ELI QUE CHULADA DE FOTOS YA VEMOS QUE TE LO ESTAS PASANDO MUY BIEN QUE SE TRATA DE ESO

    PUES LAS CUEVAS SE VEN MUY BONITAS Y MUY INTERESANTES Y VAS ACOMPAÑADA DE ESTA AMIGA QUE SUPONGO QUE HACE

    ESTE VIAJE COMO TU CUIDATE MUCHO BESOSSSSSSSSSSSSSS

    • nuria on 10 February 2015 at 17:55

    Molt xulo aquest volcà, les fotos espectaculars..

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