Friday, October 2, 2009

Waitomo Caves 2009

This is Hope, our friendly guide.

Sam and I were squeezed into a small cave in the Ruakuri cave. Ruakuri are dogs, they found dogs when they first discovered the caves.

I am home and told the water engineer that I think the caves in New Zealand are older than the Mulu caves, and he asked me why. The curtains are much bigger here. They tell us that the caves are 28 million years old.

Sam and I just went to Waitomo which is 202 km and two and half hours away from Auckland. We went with our friends and went on a triple cave combo. The Waitomo glowworm, the Ruakuri and Aranui caves.

Wai means water in Maori, and tomo means a hole. All three caves have their distinctive features. Having just been to the Mulu Caves, in Sarawak in July, I couldn't help but compare these caves.

No doubt the Sarawak caves were bigger, it was also less accessible and cost a lot of money. It took 9 hours to fly from Auckland to Brunei, and then two hours car ride to Miri, an over night transit and then another 45 minutes flight. Then you have to walk about 4 km through the jungle to reach the caves or go in a long boat and climb steps.

Whereas, Waitomo is also at our backyard, and it was very convenient to drive down to Waitomo from Auckland. Hence, visitors from all over the world come to visit the Waitomo caves since the early 1900s. The Queen came in 1953.

The Waitomo caves have the shimmering glowworms that twinkle like the stars in the sky. Having done the caving both on dry land and black water rafting in the underground river and in a boat ride, I have to say give me the Waitomo Caves any time.


dinzie said...

I've not been to the waitomo caves in a very long time .. .but remember the glow worms :O)

Didn't know about the Brunei caves ... Sounds quite a journey though :O)


Tammie Lee said...

I remember seeing the glow worms in NZ. Walking through the summer evening and coming upon them. So lovely! These caves are amazing! Hard to imagine how old they are.

A Scattering said...

Ann, thanks for the tour. I think I'd find it claustrophobic but touring with you didn't bother me at all!

Anonymous said...

The only cave I have ever been in is in Mammoth Cave in Kentucky. They are so huge and I can walk around in there better. I could not tolerate too small an enclosure. I am not brave.

Lavender and Vanilla Friends of the Gardens said...

Dear Ann; thank you for your nice comment. I love to come to your blogs, because you always have something interesting to post. The caves are beautiful, but generally I am not keen on confined spaces like caves. Very interesting to read about them as long as I have not to go into them! On my trip to the outback I have slept in a cave bedroom, but I guess this does not count as it was very spaciously and beautifully appointed. Yes, we have encountered a duststorm and could not land at a specific place, had to return, flying back 1 h in very bad weather, the poor commander was very much put to the test, the pilot too! The snow looks so innocent and beautiful, but it also can be dangerous like you explained what happened, sometimes the weather just plays up!