Outside the Glowworm Caves
Our first stop was in Waitomo where the glowworm caves are. Our entrance was delayed by 30 minutes because the CO2 level was too high. These worms are well protected. The glowworm is unique to New Zealand. The caves were discovered by two men and now belong to a Maori family of some 3000 descendants who benefit from the operation. The caves are limestone and, thus, white as snow stalagtites, stalagmites and walls make up the cavern. At the base of the cave we boarded a boat for a brief water exit. Quiet was the rule while we viewed the glowing little critters, heard the drip, drip, drip echo of the water and marveled at the glowworms’ reflections in the river. The glowing that one sees is from the maggot stage of a fly. The glow is to attract river insects that the glowworm eats. In a light the guide shown, we could see the thousands of clear filament strands that hangs from each worm and traps dinner. The glow is a bright blue bioluminescence against the blackness of the ceilings. When the glowworm becomes a fly flowing the cocoon stage, it only lives for about 5 days because it has no way to eat. It starves to death. But, there is a lot of sex going on to produce the next generation of glowing worms. So never fear, there will always be light in the tunnel. No photos are allowed, though. So you must go to see YouTube.
Volcanic Boulders Waikato