New Zealand is a land of majestic beauty and mystery. It is no wonder so many fantasy films have been filmed in this country. Its landscape is breathtaking and unusual. My eyes never get tired of looking at this land.
Upon a recent visit to the north island with my son, I couldn’t help but include one of the most wondrous and beautiful sites this place has to offer. We took an afternoon to walk and then glide through the Waitomo Caves. It is a truly spectacular spot of tranquil beauty located in northern King Country.
The word “Waitomo” comes from the Maori, the local indigenous people. It translates into two parts, “Wai,” meaning water, and “tomo” meaning hole, and is translated as the “stream which flows into the hole in the ground.” While a stream does indeed flow through a hole in the ground here, it lives inside the cave that draws visitors each year.
Upon arriving by our tour bus at the visitor center, which is a piece of architectural beauty, we lined up with our group to do a photo before entering the walk into the caves. The walk to the cave entrance lets you look down over into the gorge where the stream runs. Everything there is so lush and green. Once inside the caves, we followed a dim-lit path down into the multiple levels that make up the caves. Low lighting exists for the protection of the stone and worms. Several well-known formations were pointed out (the Catacombs, the Pipe Organ, the Banquet Chamber, and the Cathedral) before making our descent to the lowest level where the stream passes through the Glowworm Grotto. An interesting viewing stop was in the Cathedral, where the acoustics made for the sweetest sounds. Our guide asked if one of the people on our tour would sing something while the lights were out to demonstrate the acoustics. This was a very cool experience because famous singers and choirs sing there.
Our favorite part, though, was getting to the lower level where we would get to really see the beauty of the glowworms. At the very bottom, where the lighting was quite dim, we were loaded into boats. I almost felt as if I had stepped into an old scene with pirates as we seated ourselves in the boat. They seated us about 4-6 passengers aboard depending on size. Once everyone was seated, we drifted along the stream through the grotto. It was the most beautiful starry night I’ve ever seen. There were worms a glow in the beautiful blackness of the cave. The quiet lapping of the stream against the boat, the moist air, and the glimmer of the worms was ethereal. Mother Nature’s beauty at it’s best!