Traveling all over the North Island of New Zealand a few weeks ago was a beautiful and amazing experience. Mikey and I went to 10 towns in 6 days, and truly got to see the wonders of New Zealand’s landscape by car.
After leaving Hobbiton in Matamata. We drove to a small town known as Waitomo. (which is Māori language for water passing through a hole). The Town is very small, and mostly made up of farmland, but its widely known and vistited by tourists for their glow-worm caves. There are over 1,000 caves in Waitomo, 11 of them are commercially used, 500 of them are small holes in the ground with nothing big to see, and the other 500 are beautiful wonders that have barely been explored, but if you get a farmers permission you are allowed to go inside.
Mikey and I decided to see the glow-worms, but we didn’t want to just take a walking tour, we decided to go on an adventure. We went black water rafting through the Waitomo Adventure Centre (They get credit for all of the cave pictures that are taken in this post). 4 hours underground of climbing, swimming, tubing, and crawling through 12 degrees Celsius (53 degrees Fahrenheit) water.
We had intense full body wetsuits, hardhats with lights, and some rainbows for the most extreme of water. The cave was amazing. There were moments where the water was at your ankle, and others were it was so deep you couldn’t touch the bottom. Sometimes the cave was so spacious you could jump or do a cartwheel, other times we couldn’t get above an army crawl, with your chest needing to touch the ground. But most of the time it was a lot of slight rock climbing, watching your head against the ceiling, jump over this, crawl under that, swim through this.
The most amazing moments were when we turned out lights out, the cave became pitch black and you were able to see thousands, if not millions of small green lights. We would walk for 20 minutes in the complete dark, each holding the person in front of us’s shoulder, just watching the glowworms, not knowing where the walls were, how high the water was, of even where to completely step.
This is what is sort of looks like. credit to stuff.co.nz for the picture.
The acoustics in the cave were also amazing. Hearing someone hum (usually something from ‘the hobbit’) was an awe-inspiring sound, like it was a noise that belonged there.
Throughout new Zealand there are thousands of caves, but the ones in Waitomo are special because almost all of them have water running through them which is essential for glowworms to survive. Which is why this was such an amazing experience, because there are so few places in the world that you can experience this sort of natural phenomenon.
By the time we got out of the cave we were soaking wet, cold, tired, and very thankful for the warm showers waiting at the small locker room. Seeing the glowworms was something I really wanted to do while in New Zealand, but being able to fully experience a cave in the way we did was beyond amazing. I suggest that everyone do it this way, its much more intimate with only 9 people (2 of which were tour guides) instead of a normal walking tour with lots of people and no moments of silence of complete darkness. Im still amazing by myself that it even happened.
After our caving adventure we set off for auckland; the biggest city in New Zealand. one third of the countries population lives in Auckland, it is very New York City/London like. The day we were there it was pretty rainy so we decided to do the most touristy thing and go to the sky tower.
You can see the entire city from the sky tower, it is the tallest building in the country. In June I was also in Auckland and I walked on the Skywalk, so this was a much less extreme experience. although you could still stand on glass the glass and look down on the city.
I did not.
An awesome thing about Auckland is the immense amount of volcanoes it has throughout the city. There are 53 in the metropolitan area. They are currently all dormant, but the field is likely to erupt again within the next hundreds to thousands of years. A pretty cool place for a city if you ask me.
After Auckland we headed even more north. Passing through small towns that had less than a thousand citizens. We stayed at a hostel in Pukenui along the Rangaunu Bay and woke up to the most beautiful sunrise.
That day we drove all the way up to the tip of New Zealand. Cape Reinga, where the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean meet. Everything in Cape Reinga was so beautiful and breath-taking that it deserved a photo.We first walked all the way to the point where the lighthouse sits.
When you stand at the lighthouse you can clearly see that the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean are two different colors (don’t ask me why) and you are actually able to see them “clashing together” trying to beat the other one back. (the photo doesn’t do any justice).
They had this awesome sign at the lighthouse that told you the direction and distance of other major cities all over the world.
Afterwards we decided to do a little hiking and try and reach the water. Everything this far north was cliffs, so it was a bit of a hike down.
Mikey had never been to the pacific ocean, so naturally I had to take a picture of him touching it.
The ocean was cold because of the winter, but the beach was beautiful. A lot of the sand was black from volcanic eruptions, which makes it very hot in the summer, but perfect temperature in August.
After reaching the very top of the North Island, it was time to make out decent home. We passed back through Pukenui and Auckland, and started the long drive to the National Park. We wanted to do a little hiking there but unfortunately the weather was very bad and we didn’t have the proper gear for the amount of snow that had fallen that week, so we passed by it and made our way back to Wellington. Our road trip, was beautiful and amazing. We went so many places and were able to go on so many adventures. Mikey is gone now but I’m so grateful that he got to come out and experience part of this beautiful country with me.