Going underground

This evening is beautiful and so was this morning. I think the middle of the day was too, but we spent much of it underground continuing our visit to the Waitomo Caves. Photos will follow, or at least I hope they will, I haven’t looked at them yet, so not tonight.
The caves are astounding. Beautiful natural creations of lime, stalactites dripping slowly onto you as you move along the walkways, stalagmites, growing slowly from the floor; one cubic centimetre per hundred years. You mustn’t touch, but looking is enough. The guide on our final tour this afternoon told us how when the caves were first opened and visitors were guided by candlelight, taking around six hours to cover an area we were in for a sixth of that time, they were allowed to break bits of the stalactites off as souvenirs. Then she told us that one passageway had recently been closed to visitors as some had not respected the place and had also been snapping bits off.
On this morning’s tour we watched as the group doing black water rafting drifted by in the water below us. I wasn’t tempted. The landscape is a network of caves. The Waitomo caves are managed by the descendants of the tribes who lived in the area, and our guide this afternoon was a descendant of the man who had first found the entrance into that particular set of caves. Yesterday’s trip to see the glow worms’ (more correctly maggots) was busy. Apparently they can take up to 50 people a time on a tour. By contrast for this afternoon’s tour the group size is a maximum of 18, I don’tknow what the maximum size was for this morning’s tour but we were lucky to be ina group of seven. It was the guide then who said they should more accurately be called maggot tours, but that doesn’t work for the marketing. Continue reading