Friday, 18 February 2011

Waitomo (a place where water flows into the ground)

I got sick of walking up and down Queen Street so decided to leave Auckland and make my way down to Wellington. I bought a 20 hour flexipass with Intercity and booked a bus to Waitomo. After lugging my backpack up to Sky City early this morning, I got on the two and a half hour ride to Waitomo. It turned out the driver had actually grown up in Waitomo and he told us that it's permanent inhabitants come to a grand total of 40. It's completely in the sticks, with no shops to speak of but a few nice restaurants, one of which, Huhu, I'm sitting in now, taking full advantage of the free wifi. Eating chips, which are very nice though it's all I am willing to afford.

After Auckland this place is so tranquil. All around are mountains and cattle. It's very much a place built for the sole purpose of admiring the caves and holding a few hostel-goers to do the admiring. The caves were amazing. I went on a double package on the Gloworm Caves then onto Ruakuri. The first was quite short but had a spectacular ending where sailed on this boat on the underground river, the ceiling covered in tiny green lights which were the gloworms. If we take pictures with the flash, the gloworms light will go out, so no photos were allowed unfortunately. ut the second cave, Ruakuri, was phenomenal. It lasted 3 hours, and it was only a group of three of us with this really well informed guide who'd actually been part of the team excavating the caves. It turned out he wrote poetry, which didn't surprise me as his descriptions were flamboyant and romantic. I learnt so much in those 3 hours. Too much to write on here.

After my beer and chips, I'm gonna walk around the countryside, as the only buses for Rotorua go at 11 tomorrow morning and I want to spend more time in Lake Taupo. My hostel, the Juno is really great, and I would review that Waitomo is definitely worth a visit. After Auckland, I feel like I've seen the real New Zealand. The countryside is almost as breathtaking as what's underneath it all, a kilometre below the surface.

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