The Last of the North Island: caves, museum, and ferry

Hi People!

Anyone who has travelled abroad will know the feeling of “the unknown” that you have before you leave for your adventure. Before you arrive in the new country, you really don’t know what to expect, or even what is worth trying to see. Luckily for me, one of my best friends has done a lot of travelling herself, and when she was in New Zealand she went black-water tubing. She loved it so much, that she and her lovely mother covered the cost for Andrew and I to go (thanks!).

About to enter the caves

About to enter the caves

Based solely on the description of black-water tubing, I would have never enrolled without encouragement…but I’m so glad we did! Basically, the adventure is composed of suiting up in a wetsuit and helmet, grabbing a tiny inner tube, and climbing into an underground cave. THEN, without hesitation, we all jump backwards off a waterfall into cool, dark, eel-infested waters. Okay, so it was a small waterfall, and the eels are pretty friendly. But still.

Learning how to raft up. Look Mom, no hands!

Learning how to raft up. Look Mom, no hands!

Oops! Almost stepped on a 3-inch diameter eel. Sorry bud!

Oops! Almost stepped on a 3-inch diameter eel. Sorry bud!

It was so dark down there that we had to sit very still for a slow shutter on this one.

It was really amazing! The caves are in Waitomo, and they are actually filled with glow worms. It is so dark down there that the worms are all you can see. To be honest, I would have turned around and done it again if I could!

The light at the end of the tunnel! What an awesome ride

The light at the end of the tunnel! What an awesome ride

One of our tubing guides, Scuba, suggested that we go on a short hike near where we exited the caves. After hot showers and lunch, we headed back to that area, and started the trail. It really was amazing! There were all kinds of caves along the way that you could go into and explore.

The last city on the North Island that we visited was Wellington. After a long two weeks of camping and wilderness, we were glad to have a friend (nickname “Quiche”) in Wellington to stay with. Even though she was a new friend, she generously offered her couch to our aching backs. We were only in the city for one day, so we took advantage of that time to visit the national museum (Te Papa), which was absolutely great (and payment by donation). Quiche brought us out to a local pub to meet some of her other friends, and then we left early the next day for our ferry to the South Island (finally!).

The day we took the ferry was a real milestone for me: the first time I’ve ever had seasickness. The Cook Straight is not known for its calmness. Andrew, who was also seasick, just reminded me that I pretended I was not seasick, and instead mocked him mercilessly for being a wimp… he just found out my secret.

Check back soon for road washout, Abel Tasman park, and maybe even fur seals! Take care!

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