Monday, 22nd April - Day Nineteen
: Rotorua to Waitomo 163km (98 miles).
On Highway 30 we head back southwest across country to Waitomo to visit the intriguing wet and dry caves where we see glowworms for the first time. They’re fascinating to see in the darkness of the caves - little pinpricks of light that attract all kinds of flying insects from the pools or river beneath our feet. Our guide briefly flashes a torch so that we can see the thin threads that hang from them to catch their food. The caves may not be as cavernous as others elsewhere but do have their own unique atmosphere.
As we travel the road, we stop for a moderate to difficult forest walk to see one of the oldest trees in the country, the Pouakani Totara Tree, which is surrounded by a fence so that our feet don’t damage the shallow roots. It’s 1,800 years old, 13’ in diameter and125’ tall. There is a Kauri tree that’s somewhat older but that tree is in the Northland.
Dinner is a short walk uphill from the camper vans and such a good meal. I asked why the restaurant was named “Huhu”
Waitomo cave formations
so the cashier walked out to the kitchen and came back with a jar of dried brown insects. These are edible grubs found in decaying wood. The Maoris used to eat them, (maybe some still do), as they’re so nutritious. I was wondering what that little dish of ground seeds and spices contained that we dipped our olive oil soaked bread into before our meal!
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