29 Apr 2013

From Auckland to Waitomo and Roturua

After visiting the Auckland Sky Tower, we left the city area and drove to the Bombay Hills area going through the dairy rich Waikato region. Here we see undulating hills, richly covered with beautiful trees, and dotting the landscape, fat white sheep grazing. It all seems so peaceful and bucolic. We arrived at the Waitomo Caves in time for the afternoon tour which starts at 2.30pm. 

Cameras are not allowed into the caves so I have no photos of the inside of these caves. They are really dark however, lighted here and there by soft lighting. Steps go down towards the inner tunnel which opens up into a wide cavern. This part of the cave is called The Cathedral because of the large open space and high ceilings. There are stalagmites and stalactites which have been formed over centuries. It is nothing like our Mulu Caves however, which are even more breathtaking. We walk down further into another cave and then down some steps before we come to an underground river. Here there are boats waiting to pick us and we take our seats in the boats in silence. All is dark around us and quiet too, except for the sound of the water. The boat is maneuvered by rope tied across the length of  the river and we are then ferried to somewhere just ahead where in the distance we can see thousands of flickering lights on the walls of the caves and even hanging from the roofs, like strings of fairy lights. It is really gorgeous and out of this world, so much so that everyone in the group is hushed and spell bound. These are the glow worms and the cave is called the glow-worm grotto. It is literally lighted up by the glow worms - thousands and thousands of them flickering like brightly lighted candles in the dark. If only I could take a picture!

We left the Waitomo and after a short lunch break at Spooner's Lookout point, where we can see the Tasman sea shining brightly blue in the distance, we move on towards Roturua. Here too we caught our first view of the Kea, a parrot-like biird which is indigenous to NewZealand. In fact we weretold that they are the only Alpine parrots in the world.

Brightly coloured wildflowers dot the landscape
We arrived at Roturua just after 4pm and checked immediately at the Sudima Hotel, facing the beautiful Lake Roturua, which is the third largest lake in New Zealand. After checking in, Repin and I went out to take a look at the town, which was just a few minutes walk away.

Part of the beautiful landscape along the way
The Kea, an Alpine parrot

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