Kiwis and Caves
Trip Start Feb 18, 2012
41Trip End Apr 01, 2012
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Our first stop was the Otorohanga Kiwi house, just 5 min. from where we are staying. We got to view 2 kiwis, a Great Spotted kiwi and a Brown kiwi. The Spotted kiwi is 11 years old and was hatched in captivity. The Brown kiwi was only 3 years old, also hatched in captivity. There were several other native birds at this facility, some of them very rare. The NZealanders are working very hard to revive their bird population which was severely decimated when possums were introduced to this island. The possums are still a huge problem but they are finding a good use for them in the making of beautiful garments from a combination of merino wool and possum fur. I bought myself a wool/possum sweater and know that I will really enjoy it next winter.
Next stop was the world famous Waitomo Caves, one of NZ's main tourist attractions. The caves are limestone formations and were first discovered by the Maoris. They have been open to tourists since 1889. The main feature of these caves is the thousands of gloworms that are found overhead throughout the cave passages. The gloworms are the larvae of a two-winged insect something like a mosquito. The larva hatch on the ceilings of the caves and send down long sticky strings like very stong spider webs. They glow a beautiful blue color to attract insects that will then be trapped in the sticky strings and provide a food source.
Our tour of the cave started with a walk through the stalagmite and stalacite formations.There is one part of the caves called the "cathedral" that has a high domed "ceiling". It is well known for its acoustics and some famous people have performed there. We were so lucky on our guided tour because just in front of us was a Japanese high school choir. Sure enough, when they got to the cathedral they sang. It sounded glorious, what a special treat.
After making our way through some of the passages we got in a boat and were taken to a part of the cave where we could view thousands and thousands of gloworms emitting that beautiful blue light. Just amazing.
We are now back at our motel and facing the challenge of packing for our flight to the Cook Islands tomorrow. We drive to Auckland in the morning, return our rental car and make our way to the airport. The rental car guys said they would take us. Our flight leaves at 7:30 pm and we will arrive in Rarotonga at half past midnight on the same day that we left!
Wish us luck with the packing and getting all that shopping crammed into our luggage.