Published: June 12th 2011June 11th 2011
Another busy day started with our 9AM reservation to hike through another cave on a 2-hour guided tour. We were hopeful that our guide on this adventure would actually finish the tour with us. The Ruakuri Cave is one that was only recently reopened to the public (about 6 years ago). The government had been running tours for about 120 years via boat until a Maori burial site was found in one of the caves dry entrances. This led to a legal dispute that resulted in the land owner above the cave claiming the rights to the caves below. A company contracted with him to build a separate entrance with a 60-foot spiral ramp down to the caves below. Nearly all of the tour was conducted on walkways that were built above the cave floor and the river that passed through it.
Our guide on today's excursion was young and energetic which was a stark contrast to our older guide from yesterday who seemed to slip out a back entrance and then left us for dead in an underground labyrinth. We actually learned that the glow worms would be more accurately described as maggots with illuminating feces. Probably wouldn't create
the same lure for tourists. We also got a good close up look at them. They had nearly transparent bodies that stretched an inch and a half or so. They worked on their feeding lines and were surrounded by a network of 40 or more of the dangling webs created from their saliva. We unanimously enjoyed this tour a bit more than the last, even if we had not been cast off.
We returned to a visitor center and checked it out and watched a 20-minute multi-media presentation on the caves and glow worms before we headed back to our lodge to check on our "Kiwi Cultural Show". We had prepaid for this show as part of our 2-night package with our Hobbit House, but we were informed on check in that more of an audience was required for the show to go on. Fortunately, another couple was going to join us and show time commenced at 1:30. We checked out the large dining facility in the lodge which was like a weird museum for old odds and ends that lined the walls and hung from the walls and ceiling. There was an old telephone switchboard and an old
buggy-style farming tractor hanging from the ceiling.
We headed over to the other side of the building that had old chainsaws hanging all over the ceiling and chairs that looked like they had been pulled from a 1950's movie theater. Probably not the ideal place to be sitting should an earthquake hit. Billy Black (a younger version of the original) put on a one-man show that focused on logging and farming activities of the locals from 120 years ago. This included ample audience participation that included me and another guy working the long saw and Suzy planting a blasting cap in a tree stump. Suzy and the kids also helped out with the shearing of a sheep. The show ended with Billy coming out in front of the stage on a 3000-pound steer.
As a cap off for the day, we headed to the town of Otorohanga about 20 minutes away. Here the town was home to a Kiwi House that featured not only two brown kiwi (who we got to see being fed), but also about 30 other native species of birds as well as some lizards and frogs. To see the kiwis made this worth the
We returned back to our Hobbit House for dinner. As we pulled up, Geddy shouted, "There's a sheep on our roof." Sure enough a sheep had wandered from its pasture on to the roof of our Hobbit House. Later a pig joined it.
There are more photos below