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Waitomo

From Hobbiton we headed to one of the other most famous tourists destinations in all NZ – Waitomo’s famous glow-worm caves.

Glow worms are a form of “fungus gnat” (sounds terrible) that live in damp, dark caves throughout New Zealand. They are bio-luminescent, thus the attraction. (If you are ever here on a super tight budget you needn’t pay for the famous tour to see them – they have them in many caves – though the tour has its own charms.)

Before going to the famous cave, we toured another nearby (glow-worm free) cave called Aranui. We walked into the cave (and back) over the course of about an hour with a local guide. It was definitely one of the longest cave paths (probably the longest?) I’ve been to and there were plenty of interesting formations and colors to see. We also got to see a few large wetas, a large inspect endemic to NZ.

“Old woman in shawl” formation

Next up was the main attraction: the glow worm caves! It started with a walk through some “regular” caves where our guide asked someone to sing and demonstrate the (apparently) amazing acoustics. Nobody volunteered and the guide, for at least the third time, lamented the lack of foreign tourists. He implied tourists are always willing to sing which seems somewhat unlikely. He had a few slight digs at lockdowns and border controls, which no doubt are hurting their business hugely.

Due to the sensitive habitat, you aren’t allowed to take photos, unfortunately but please do look at this, this and this .

The main part of the tour is actually a short boat ride through the cave, that almost gives the feel of a Disney dark ride upon launch. However, the sparkle and light is beyond anything manmade. Spectacular. Even Nate thought it was incredible to see, which was something given his mood that day.

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