A Side Trip to New Zealand
Mon 3 Jan 2011 - Fri 14 Jan 2011 24 °C
Trevor and I decided to take a side trip to New Zealand with Trevor's friend Mark who was visiting us in Sydney. We also invited Trevor's old roommate Anita.
Anita and I flew out of Sydney earlier in the day on January 3, and Trevor and Mark joined us near midnight the same night.
Bright and early the next day we went off to pick up our rental car and got out on the road - not before stopping at "Countdown" (read Woolworths) to get some brekky. So our first day, January 4, we drove from Auckland to the Waitomo Caves where we promptly joined our Waitomo Cave Tour at 1:30pm. We were walked through the beautiful cave looking at ribbon formations, stalactites, stalagmites and glowworms all the way to the underground river where we were filed into a small motorless boat. The boat took us in the dark underneath hundreds of thousands of beautiful glowworms until we eventually popped out of the cave and dumped on the side of the river. The next tour took us to Ruakuri Cave where we decended a stunning spiral walkway to the cave entrance. This manmade walkway wad created to keep the temperature and humidity level appropriate in the cave as there were no naturally large openings. It also included a water feature with two purposes - to aid the humidity and to splash on onesself before and after the cave visit. We were told this is because spirits of the Maori ancestors are in the cave and cleansing onesself with water before coming back to the surface keeps the spirits inside the cave so that they don't come up and wreak havoc among the living.
When the tours were all done we went to nearby Curly's for lunch/dinner. It was typical greasy pub food. I had nachos with beans and chili. Of course it was not quite what I had expected, but I ate it anyway.
From there we drove back towards Ruakuri Cave where we did a bit of tramping. When we tried to leave the park we came into some car trouble. There was a horrible screeching as we tried to drive away. Not knowing what it was, Anita called the car company and the suggestion of the assistant amused us...he told us to drive backwards then stop abruptly. Of course Trevor wanted to do this. Unfortunately it didn't work, but we drove away anywas in case the guy was right about it being a stone lodged in a tight spot. To our surprise, a little further down the road (while travelling at about 110km/h) we all heard a ting-ping-ping as the stone was dislogged and was flung out from under the car. Hooray!
And off we went to Matamata.