Day 72: Paihia to Waitomo, New Zealand

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February 7th 2010
Published: February 22nd 2010
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Paihia to Waitomo

Gang when we first entered Glow Worm cave.Gang when we first entered Glow Worm cave.Gang when we first entered Glow Worm cave.

I can't take credit for any of the Glow Worm pics- we weren't allowed cameras (and yes, it made my eye twitch.)
Day 72: Sunday, February 7th, 2010
Paihia, New Zealand to Waitomo, New Zealand.

Per the Contiki brochure: "We head south, stopping in Auckland for lunch before traveling through the lush Waikato farming region to Waitomo, home of magical limestone formations and sparkling Glow-worms. Tonight there's the chance to meet the local characters."

So, I'm now writing this blog on 2/22/10- needless to say, I have forgotten much. I do remember that we left Paihia and stopped in Auckland again. Here, we dumped off the "olbies" (their tour was up) and picked up some "newbie newbies". We then headed down to Waitomo and we got into the hotel (Kiwi Paka Waitomo) at the same time that the Black Water Rafting bus that was taking us to the Glow Worm excursion was due to leave. So, I flew into my room (sharing the top room with Fiona this time and two other girls, Sharon and Ashley, have the downstairs room), got into my swimsuit, put shirt and shorts back on and flew out to the bus.

We get to the Glow Worm caves and our first task is to sign a form saying we won't sue them if we die. Then, it's time to don the wet suits. This is twice the fun because the suits are wet. If you thought, ladies, getting into/out of a wet swimsuit was hard, this was worse. All of us gals are in the changing room and we are having to have others tug the wet suits up for us. I like to describe it as "The Ultimate Spanx Nightmare". Picture Miss Scarlett holding onto the bedpost while Mammy tried to cinch up her girdle- that's kind of what we were going thru. So, once we're all in our unflattering suits, we head out, take a group picture (no cameras were allowed so we're relying on the company) and we start walking to the river. We get there, grab an innertube, and our first mission is to prove that we can jump backwards into the river (turn your back to the river, be holding the innertube to your ass, and jump back so that you land in the innertube.) At first, I thought we were jumping off a high platform into the river (backwards) and I started to freak a bit. That slight freak out was enough for my nerves to wake up and go "Oh, hey- we haven't given her a panic attack in awhile! Let's show her some love guys!" So, my nerves kicked into full gear and I broke out in a lovely sweat. I started thinking about how hard this suit was to get on and what the hell am I going to do if I suddenly have to get it off... a mind is a terrible thing to waste. So, as I'm doing my deep breathing, they lead us to a platform right above the water level and I calm down a bit. I jump backwards, inhale the river thru my nose, but manage to stay on my tube. So success!

We then get out of the river (that was just a test jump) and start walking up a path/hill to where the cave is. It was quite a walk and I was having a hard time keeping up. Between being out of shape and in a suit that doesn't allow you to bend/breathe/sweat, it was hard on me. Luckily, someone else finally gasped at our lead tour guide that they needed a break and we got a 2 minute breather. Then our hike began again. We got to the cave, hunkered in, and soon we were off on our under world tour. The guys pointed out some eels (whatever Heather, I've caught those fishing before... I'm not going to touch them, but they still didn't freak me out like some of the other girls.) I am amazed that more people don't break their ankles on this tour. You have lights on your helmets, but it's hard to see where you're stepping because most of the time you're stepping into rapid type (albeit shallow) water. A lot of ankle twisting going on. One thing that wasn't going on is that no one in my tour group had seen "The Goonies." So, no one got it when I kept quoting lines (especially your line, Schroeder, "It's our time, our time down here!") Oh well.

We get to some deeper water and we "eel up" (I think that's what they called it.) All it means is that you sit in your innertube, put your feet on the tube in front of you and they put their arms over your feet, locking everyone into a giant eel/snake shape. Then, we turn off the lights on our helmets and we float down the river in the pitch black cave. Pitch black except for the purple tiny lights above us, the Glow Worms. Well, it's their poo to be exact. It glows. I forgot most of the info passed on to us but if I remember correctly, it glows solid if it's trying to get something to fly into a net/trap and the lights pulse if the owner of the poo is in the mood for love (simply because you're near me... old song for ya there.) It felt like we were rafting (slowly) thru the Grand Canyon and looking up a the night sky. Very surreal, very beautiful, and one of my favorite traveling experiences. We're in the cave for about an hour and it was great. We get to an opening and head out and we're right where we got off the bus, so no more long walks- yea! We pry the wetsuits off our bodies, take quick showers to warm up/get goo off of us, then we scarf down some soup and bagels before being bused back to the hotel where we get to take real showers.

Dinner that night was at the hotel- pizza party! Afterwards, Beck (from Australia) and I sat outside and contemplated the Star War movies (4,5,6,1,2,3... "he's fucking with us numerically"). We head to the local bar but I don't stay that long (shocker) and head back to my room to crash and call it a night. Hmmm, I think that's how I keep ending all these blogs... need to get a new saying (not to mention I need to try to stay awake past 9 pm.)

Additional photos below
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My and Fiona's room at hotel.My and Fiona's room at hotel.
My and Fiona's room at hotel.

I had 5 minutes to get into a swimsuit and get on the bus for Glow Worm excursion- hence the tornado.

23rd February 2010

You ate a bunch of worms to see if your poo turned glowy?
Awesome adventure!! When do you go back to Prague?

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