We had a smoother time getting the car in Auckland, but the drive to Waitomo was no where as picturesque as we had come to expect from our time on the South Island. More highway, more industry, flatter land the only constant was that it was still raining!
Waitomo had two things of interest to us, giant bunnies and caves full of glowworms.
Finally the land transformed from tarmac to something more befitting Hobbiton as we approached the small village. The local farming community has set a welcome for us, along the single road in and out of town were set jets propelling streams of animal effluent into the fields… except the wind had apparently changed direction and the spray blanketed our previously blue car. We arrived at the top ten holiday park feeling a little more rustic than we intended, but we settled in.
The next day was a busy one for us. I had arranged for Sarah to drop from a ledge, through a 3ft hole in the ground to a cave floor a good 130ft below. Well I did too. We were on a 5 hour trip with the “Blackwater rafting company”. In the blackness of the cave two guides would lead 8 of us through underground rivers on foot and on rubber tubes to marvel at glowworms doing their funky stuff. It was quite the adventure, and while our wet-suits helped insulate us from the supposedly warm water, we were glad of the hot soup afterwards.
Then we went to see giant bunnies!
We headed out to out only other stop on the North Island, Rotorua, a geothermally active area in the middle of the island where we would spend 3 days.
Our hotel was right next to a park full of bubbling pits of mud and sulfurous water, leaving us with the opinion that a hole in the ground would open up and swallow us at any time.
We got up to all kinds of stuff in Rotorua, it’s a place with something for everyone. Some highlights were a Maori Hangi, with native song dance and food in a recreation of a traditional village, a visit to see some Kiwi’s , a soak in 40 degree mineral baths, a demonstration of various farming activities and lots of walking in geothermal parks.
Let’s not mention the 6.8 earthquake which brought chaos to a town not 50 miles away!