Thursday, August 14, 2014

Let it Snow, let it snow......

Off we go today to visit Waitomo caves and the glow worms. Now you need to understand that I have been to caves a lot.. I love caves so I am not really sure that I want to spend the time going to more caves, but off we go. It is a clear, yes I said clear , but chilly day and the traffic is not so bad headed out of town. But, holey moley ! going into town , now that is a totally different story. The traffic back up makes Charlotte look like only a few cars travel on I77 or I 85. Sitting in the back seat allows me to take lots of pictures and it is about 20 minutes or so into the trip that I see my first rainbow of the day: A total that ultimately reached 15 over some of the most fabulous landscape I have ever seen. It is best to describe it as Ireland green covering the rolling ( sometimes not so rolling - straight up ) hillsides of a volcano field.

Steve is getting hungry and to be truthful , we all are. I especially am missing that early morning coffee jolt that you can only get from a great cup of espresso...... coming up on a turn - about , we spy a wee small café called Lola's. Lola's looks perfect! Small , local and very inviting as the clouds have rolled back in and it is starting to drizzle.

My breakfast , in fact all of our breakfasts were yoghurt with honey drizzled on it , fruit and home made muesli.  This is sort of like granola only much more delicate and full of dried fruit. Top that off with a latte and my breakfast was just right! We enjoyed the quiet sit and just watched  the cars and the local people.... About 30 or so minutes later, it is time to continue the trek to the caves and surrounding area.

The moisture falling from the sky has changed. Well, Nathan did say that the temperature was dropping. DROPPING? It is not rain anymore..... it is spitting snow!! SNOW ladies and gentlemen and children of all ages.......that does not bode well for the journey.

Off we head! and about 90 minutes or so later we arrive at Blackwater Rafting. I have been in contact with them for about two months and trying to set up the cave experience. Leo, that's the guy in charge, said that there were no issues and that we should be able to get any type of your when we get is off season, you know. Well, duh! I found out yesterday when it started snowing.! Our guide Meeka was the best guide ever in the history of guides. She was funny and knowledgeable.  

The first cave was Ruakuri Cave. Meeka told us that the Maori name means two dogs and that the story goes like this. There were several Maori that had been watching the cave so that they could use it, but they wanted to make sure that it was unoccupied. Over a few days they watched two wild dogs coming and going and finally trapped them , cooked and ate them The cave was now empty and became the tribe's. The tribe used the cave over the men's lives and when they died  , they buried them in  the cave to honor the men who had discovered it. The cave had been called Ruakuri since that was how it was discovered , by watching two dogs. When it was discovered again in the early 20th Century, the entrance that was found was the burial site. Because it was a sacred place, it wasn' t a great way into the cave and so other entrances were searched out. To this day , the final count of entrances is eight and when you leave the cave , you pass close to the original entrance where you can stop and pay your respects , if you so chose.

Our next cave is supposed to be Aranui Cave at 1 pm and then the glow worm cave. But we have quite a bit of time in between and only about .5km distance , so best thing to do is see if there is any way to see the glow worms earlier than planned. SUCCESS!!! come right on in..  It is an awesome cave and it is interesting to hear the same general descriptions told by two different people..... Although Stephen is a full Maori and has great tales to tell ... like the cave is owned by his family and has been for generations and that the family is huge, he is not the best speaker in the world. But again, we were spoiled by Meeka!  We tour the cave and start to get a wee nervous about the time . Haven't made it to the worms yet......

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