Setting off from Rotorua following our Maori Village experience, we headed to Otorohanga Kiwi House, to meet New Zealand’s national treasured icon, the kiwi bird. We arrived just in time for the last Kiwi feeding at 3:30pm. Being nocturnal birds, the kiwi could only be viewed in the dark behind a glass panel. I find them to be such odd creatures, reminding me of the dodo, a flightless bird walking on it’s two legs with a big body and hair-like feathers. This particular Kiwi was a female Great Spotted Kiwi and was searching for food by inserting the whole lngth of her long thin beak into the depths of the soil. Surprisingly, I am unsure whether all kiwis are aggressive like this one, but when the ranger entered the pen to feed her she spent the entire time holding on to his trousers with her beak and thumping him with her hind leg. It was really amusing to watch as the kiwi persisted on thumping this poor man. There were other kiwis however they did not come out so we only got to see that one particular bird which was enough for us.
The best photo possible of the Kiwi in the dark without flash
The rest of the park was generally quiet. We were the only visitors walking around at the time, the time of day and the dreary weather may have been a factor. On the bright side we saw the Kea and Kaka birds native to New Zealand, along with oystercatcher birds with their long bright orange bills.
A cheeky Kaka bird A Kea bird
We didn’t spend a long time at the park due to the weather, it was very unappetising to be outside, and before we knew it we were off again to Waitamo.
WAITAMO glowworm cave:
Waitamo Caves is one of the top activities in North Island and because of this we expected a bit more of Waitamo than there actually was. Having only a few cafes, we drove through the town in a matter of minutes, had a hot drink at Curley’s Bar and parked outside I-site for the night. There weren’t any official freedom camps in the area but we had been told by I-site that campers park in a certain parking closer to the caves or in the I-site car park.
We opted to only visit the glowworm cave as there is also Ruakuri and Aranui Caves with walking guided tours and the former offering abseiling and tubing. The limestone cave was nothing spectacular, yes it was large filled with many stalactites and stalagmites, but the best thing about the cave were the thousands of little specks of lights representing each individual glow worm.
Glow worms are fly larva which emit light to attract insects. They create long sticky feeding strings, resembling honey, where flying insects get trapped on which are then drawn up and eatenWe learnt that when the flies emerge from the pupa, they mate immediately and lay their eggs, dying a few days later due to the absence of mouthparts. Their only function being to reproduce.
We were unfortunate enough to have landed with an elderly lady as a tour guide who was more concerned about scolding the Chinese visitors in the group behind us than the four people in her group and her pace was so slow we might as well have walked backwards! Yes we understood she was elderly but we paid for a tour and she was not very informative.
A boat picked up about 20 of us from the dark cave and we drifted silently around the cave, just listening to the occasional dripping of water. As the boat left the platform you could see many glow worms but as you went further in to the pitch black cave the caves roof became a blanket of tiny illuminated specks expanding throughout the cave, producing a stunning picture.
The entire tour only took 45mins so we relaxed at The General Store whilst we had a hot drink and used wifi.