Sunday, 18 January 2015

Waitomo Region: Glow, worms, glow!

Waitomo Caves
We took a tour of Waitomo Caves to see the glow worms. It's amazing how many of the little luminescent insects there were, and our guide was friendly (he was also the 8th generation of Waitomo tour guides in his family). It was more expensive than I thought it would be, but it was interesting. You're not allowed any kind of photography in the cave itself, and here they did try to get you to buy a photo - however it wasn't even a photo of you in the cave, they just took it in front of a wall before you went in.

Mangaokewa Scenic Reserve
Near the town of Te Kuiti, where we loaded up on picnic supplies, is the scenic reserve of Mangaokewa. There was plenty of room to relax and have a picnic under a large tree with a view of the river and wooded cliffs beyond. It seems we do have rather a lot of picnics.

Piripiri Caves
On our way to Marokopa (a seaside village that we liked the sound of), we took a short walk to the Piripiri caves. The main reason for this was that the winding road was making me feel ill and I wanted to pull over. It happened that there was a bush walk and Yannick loves caves so we had to go.

Yannick's hayfever had been acting up that day and once we got to the caves and realised we needed a torch, he was overcome with sneezing. I ran back to the car for the torch and he had recovered somewhat by the time I got back. There were parts where you could see beyond into another cave, and I got to shine my torch on it to light it up for this photo. On one part of the rock, I saw a creepy marker of some sort - it looked like someone had made a dream catcher out of human hair and strung it to the rock. I bet it was for a voodoo ritual.

Marokopa Falls
Close by was the walk to the Marokopa falls, which only took about ten minutes. We were surprised by how tall and impressive they were, as we hadn't heard much about them. The surrounding area was dense with foliage and moss, and you could see that the spray from the waterfall drifted all around giving the plants a good misting.

In the small village of Marokopa, we stayed at the campground and visited the beach. This was the first black sand beach we went to on our trip, and it certainly was hot. The sand is black because of the iron content due to the volcanoes that are off the coast as well as Mount Taranaki. The dark colour of the sand helps absorb and hold onto heat.
No one can keep their feet in one place for very long on this sand, even the birds.