Jennifer Tice's Blog

Day 8: New Plymouth to Auckland

Posted on: September 14, 2009

Day 8:

It rained all night, but it looks like we have lucked out and the rain has stopped for now.  Heading up north again towards Auckland,  I have been looking forward to this day for the whole trip – this is the day we get to check out the Waitomo Caves.

Waitomo Caves

Waitomo Caves

Located about 3 hours south of Auckland, the Waitomo caves consist of a number of different caves containing stalagmites, stalactites, and best of all, glow worms! There are a number of different tours and adventurous ways to see the cave, we did a 2 cave combo which gave us the glow worm cave and the Aranui cave. You can also go black water rafting, or abseil into the caves if that’s your thing.

Our first stop is the glow worm cave, no photos inside unfortunately.  You take walk through in the dark and then take a mystical boat ride under which seems like a sky full of thousands of stars – but those are the glowworms hard at work. At the end of the glowworm cave tour, we are able to snap some photos.

Stalactites in Aruani Cave

Stalagmites in Aruani Cave

Next, the Aranui cave.  Here, over thousands of years the limestone that drips from the ceiling has formed large stalagmites (the ones hanging from the ceiling), and stalactites (the ones growing from the floor). In the old days, tourists were able to snap off parts of the fixtures as souvenirs.  Now that researchers understand how long they take to form, there is no touching the formations.   Another hour is spent touring this cave.

Hamilton Gardens

Hamilton Gardens

Back on the road again we take a quick stop in Hamilton – it’s where I am from (in Canada) so I have to at least get a few pictures.  Here one of the major sites is the Hamilton Gardens, since they are free you might as well stop to check them out.  The gardens are massive, they are broken down into 7 different genres, and each of these are then broken down into sub categories as well. Each is completely contained, their own mini-oasis. We spent a few hours and got through about half.

Finally, we arrive back in Auckland, feels like a bit of a home base over here in New Zealand. We spend a bit of time walking around here and then call it a night.  Getting up early to head north to Paihia.

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