Our first New Zealand adventure was a visit to the Waitomo glow worm caves on the north island. We went on a black water rafting trip that took us 55 meters underground on rivers through caves. We tubed, hiked, and jumped off of waterfalls on our trek through the caverns.
Waitomo means “two dogs”, and is named based on an old legend in New Zealand. They say that, a long time ago, a chief killed and ate two dogs. From them, he gained the power to conquer the tribes in the area, and became powerful and respected. When he died, he was buried in this cave. His bones still lie in the dry entrance of the cave, forcing visitors to enter through the wet entrance.
So, through the wet entrance we went! The adventure was fun in and of itself, but the really striking quality of these particular caves was the amount glowworms covering the ceilings. We learned while on our trip that, actually, the glowing ceilings are not made up worms at all. In reality, the glowing creatures are maggots of a specific kind of fly. When hungry, they glow to attract their prey, which are caught in web like lines hanging from the ceiling when they get too near.
The water was freezing, even in our special suits! We were thankful to be here during New Zealand’s summer months! 🙂