Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Glow Little Glow Worm, Glimmer Glimmer

We left Auckland today and began our journey south.  We traveled through rolling green countryside populated with cows and sheep.  NZ is making more money from the exportation of milk and butter fat than anything else.  It was evident how low the population density is here.  On occasion were volcanic formations, thick bush and ostrich.

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

Rotorua, our final destination, is nicknamed Sulphur City.  Here is the most thermal activity in the country including hot springs, geysers and bubbling mud pools.  As we drove through the town there were 8’ pipes in private yards spewing steam.  As we exited our bus, we acknowledged  that Sulphur City is indeed a proper nickname.  More on all that steam tomorrow. Photos of the day at flickr.