Monday 26 January 2009

Waitomo Caves

Our second week with Daniel, Fiona, Aaron and Maria flew past. Our first stop was Waitomo, where we stayed for one night. The premier (and only) attraction of Waitomo is the Waitomo Caves, so we got our tickets and headed in to see what all the fuss is about. The caves were fairly impressive with lots of huge stalactites and stalagmites and as the caves were formed in limestone/sandstone/mudstone there were lots of interesting shapes where water erosion had worn away the rocks. Joseph was less impressed as he was a bit scared of the dark and spent most of the walk through the caves clinging tightly to our hands.

After seeing the caves we boarded a small boat on the underground river which took us to see the glowworms within the caves. We had done a bit of reading up on glowworms (which are the larvae of the fungus gnat) and were impressed by the evolutionary ingenuity of a larvae which generates a light to catch insects in sticky threads it weaves and sends down to hang below its light. We were less impressed to learn that when the adult hatches it only lives two days as it does not have a mouth...I guess all the evolutionary genius was used up on the glow in the dark technology!

Our boat had a guide who used ropes to silently pull us through the caves and it was a spectacular experience. In the silence we all looked up to the roof to see millions of tiny lights, like stars above us. It was like gazing into a clear night sky, even Joseph forgot his fear of the dark and marvelled at the tiny dots glowing above us. It was all over too fast and before we knew it the tour was over and we were getting off the boat outside the caves.

No photos this time as there was no photography in the caves.


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