Adventures Down Under: Waitomo Glowworm Caves

‘Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads.’-H.D. Thoreau

On my first full day in New Zealand, I left Auckland and headed to the wilderness. My introduction to the most stunning things I will ever see was the Waitomo Glowworm Caves. It was an additional excursion and was a no-brainer. It is one of the great wonders of the world and I still am in awe that I was there witness to it.

The caves were discovered by accident when a Maori chief and British surveyor began to explore the area over a century ago. The descendants of the chief still run the facility and my guide was a great-granddaughter! Note, you are not allowed to take any photographs inside, thus all of my photos are of the surrounding rain forest.

The area surrounding the caves is a lush paradise. It was drizzly and green and wonderful! When you enter the cave, you see how spectacular mother nature is. The carved limestone was breathtaking. As described on my foray underground in Iceland, I am a sucker for a cave. I could have spent all day down there!

Before you go onto the boat, you have the chance to see the glowworms from eye level and how they catch their food…by dripping spit! You just see thousands of dribbles from the ceiling. It was a little gross but very, very cool. You then board a small boat and your guide will take you through. In addition to no photography there is no talking. Light and sound will spook the worms causing them to not light. And if they aren’t glowing, your just sitting in the dark. So abide by the rule!!! We will ‘shush’ you! It was one of many moments of quiet where I could just truly enjoy the moment. I am guilty of spending too much time on my phone but it was really nice to be deeply connected to the natural world. I also surprised myself because I don’t really like just sitting in the quiet, it tends to make me very anxious, but it was so nice here. I just sat looking at a constellation of glowworms, who found a way to survive in pure darkness, and I was just really happy and calm (adjectives not usually used to describe myself).

The most remarkable thing about the entire experience is it was only the first stop! The Waitomo Caves were something I would never forget, I can still see the shapes of light on the ceilings. I have been lucky enough to see some of the greatest sites in the world and this is near the top. I still find it hard to grasp that this is my life.

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