Monday, 3 October 2011

NZ: The Road to Rotorua

Rotorua, the geothermal capital of New Zealand sitting fearlessly on the Pacific Rim of Fire, was only a few hours from Auckland by car.  We took the long way there in order to take in the glow worm caves in Waitomo.  Visiting the caves was a magical experience - stage carefully set by the low-key Maori guide who sang a sacred Maori hymn for us, his beautiful baritone resounding in the cavernous interior of  the limestone caves.  He asked for silence when we hopped on boats to enter the darkest part of the caves where the glow worms were found.   Lifting our eyes, we gaped at the magical sight of a million glow worms in the pitch black roof of the caves - the effect was absolute enchantment, a spiritual experience.

The visitor centre was itself stunning architecturally.  Rebuilt after a devastating fire, it was an award- winning structure that was a showcase on its own. You see below the steps leading to the entrance and the innovative roof over the complex.

A glimpse of the caves from the exit.

Photos were not allowed inside - a photo of the poster was the best I could do!

The rolling landscape around the caves was quite striking.

It didn't take us long to get to Rotorua.  And you couldn't miss it for the smell of sulphur!  The waterfront is the tamest part of the town.

Even the swans had to be black to fit in!

For a foretaste of the sights to come - a boiling mud pool in the neighbourhood park!   This was the stuff that nightmares were made of, that unforgettable scene of the man sinking in the mudpool in the "Hound of the Baskervilles" still haunted me half a century later...

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