Hittin' the Road - Wednesday, 11/23/16
After four days in the big city, it was time for us to travel south ... in our very comfortable coach to Rotarua. It didn't take too long to leave urban Auckland behind for the quieter roads to our first stop: the Waitomo Glowworm Caves, something we'd been looking forward to. Traveling through the green countryside was pleasant, and Albert's commentary as we rolled along kept us informed and entertained. (We're having jolly good fun.)
We're still on New Zealand's North Island, but working our way south through a lush green landscape.
A Māori roadside "totem."
Just about the time you need a bathroom break, the coach pulls into a toilet stop. Believe it or not, often we see interesting sights at these spots. Some of them are printable!
Now we all know where the woman's room is.
We had the nicest lunch on the patio at Roselands, a garden restaurant close to Waitomo. Situated on 20 acres of rolling hills, Roselands has all manner of critters, including this little pony, above. Native trees and flowers abound on their land. Jimmy and I picked the right time to be in the Southern Hemisphere, because late spring means heaps of color.
Rhodies so gigantic they're trees, with flowers the size of dinner plates.
After lunch, we continued on to the Glowworm Caves. When we entered the cave, we had a great guide walk us through an area of stalactites and stalagmites. She told us about the caves' discovery and everything glowworm, life cycle, etc., as we worked our way down to the water. Before we left California, I Googled the caves and had a pretty good idea what we'd see, but I was unprepared for the depth of emotion I felt as we entered the glowworm domain. It was magical. It was spiritual. It was special. My eyes watered.
We boarded a small boat to tour a short way through the dark cave, lit only by hundreds and hundreds of tiny blue lights glowing high above our heads (but not too high). No one spoke, except for perhaps a hushed, "wow!" No cameras or photos were allowed, to protect the glowworm environment, so I can't show you the beauty. It truly was a WOW experience.
Before we entered the caves, we posed for a group photo. We number 22, plus Albert, but that number will lower as we dip to the South Island. Jimmy is toward the left and I'm on the right.
Where we disembarked the tour boat.
Our coach driver, Gavin, a right good fella, stopped the bus so I could take a picture of this wall in Otorohanga -- all things kiwi.
Can you tell we're in New Zealand?
Albert said, "Wait till you see the millions of sheep on South Island!"
Oh, yeah, after checking into our hotel in Rotorua and had dinner, out came the obligatory birthday cake to celebrate my (mumble mumble) birthday! Everyone sang the song and wished me a happy one. Isn't this a nice thing to do? Someone asked me later if I gave a speech. I said, "Heck no, not with cake in front of me!"
It's very warm in Rotoroa, a hotbed of geothermal energy! Pun intended.