Friday, March 16, 2018

Waitomo Glow-Worm Caves

Vicki wanted to see the internationally famous glow worm caves at Waitomo, and so, while I blogged on the free wifi at the cafe, she did the tour. Alas, no fotos were permitted (the glow worms apparently are Italian), but she said the tour was "good." See illustration.

Mangahue Natural Bridge

Next up, a few more ks up the road, was the Mangahue Natural Bridge...
Natural bridges, like limestone caves, require moisture

Sediment oozing from a crack...

A boy and his drone (illegal on DOC preserves)

It's actually a double natural bridge, upper and lower; we've
seen similar, maybe even a triple, on the South Island

The natural bridge, part of it

Creek below

Stalactites above 
The rest of the loop hike took us through a pasture

More interesting rocks

Oyster fossils


And more interestingly fluted rocks

Best, the road back to Te Kuiti afforded a great distant view
of Mt. Ngauruhoe, many miles to the south

Also Ruapehe (?)

Smoke not rising from the Mountain of Doom, as it was in 2014,
both ascent and exploration and descent

Piri Piri Cave

On the way back to Te Kuiti there were a couple more stops of note, DOC scenic reserves, the first of which was the large Piri Piri Cave. Importantly, it was here I learned the proper Australasian spelling of the South African hot sauce (peri peri) I came to like last fall.
Fluted limestone everywhere; of course

Vicki at the edge of the abyss; it was wet and yucky inside so
she did not go any further

Sans flash

Avec flash

Incipient stalactites

Incipient stalagmites

At last I found the way out

Marokopa Beach

From our campsite on the lay-by it was only 14k more to the coast and Marokopa Beach and the allegedly more attractive Kritihiere beach, so we continued our westering course. Somehow I don't consider a drive complete until you come to the end of the road. I am learning this is not a always a good strategy, however.
Kritihiere beach; somehow, black sand beaches by themselves
are not all that alluring; we passed

Marokopa Beach, and the Tasman Sea, from a hill above

Driving back, a very recently very big downed tree

Marokopa Falls

We drove on toward the west coast again, stopping for the short hike to Marokopa Falls, an impressive waterfall just a few hundred feet off the road.
Beautiful green countryside

This was once the great watchtower of Amon Sul...

Wait, no...
More countryside

Marokopa Falls, 70-80 feet high

Us, there

We drove on, stopping for the night at a lay-by across a creek
from these beautiful towers

Ruakuri Bush Walk, 2018

After our low tide adventures, we drove back to Te Kuiti to do the Ruakuri bush walk we had enjoyed in 2014. It is all about bush, caves, limestone, stalactites, stalagmites, and such. The glowworms were there, glowing but imperceptibly.

"Mordor, Gandalf, is it right or left?" Vicki seems to be asking