After visiting Auckland and meeting Maori council members, we continued our journey through the north island of New Zealand. We jump started our adrenalin by zip lining over a rainforest in Rotorua, enjoyed a dinner and stage show from a Māori tribe, and visited a cave that is over 30 million years old. In the cave, we were introduced to something that glows brightly, has a short lifespan, and sometimes eats its siblings. More about that later.
Zip Lining in Rotorua
Rotorua is an adrenaline junkie’s dream. In Rotorua, you can zip line, white-water raft, off-road in a 4 wheeler, ride jet boats or roll down a mountain in a Zorb (clear plastic ball). In hindsight, I wish we had more time to spend here — you could easily spend a week and enjoy some great activities. Since we only had 1 full day here, we chose to zip line.
We chose Rotorua Canopy Tours — guided by 2 young Kiwis with great personalities who took time to explain the flora, animals, and history of the rainforest. Here’s a video from their website that gives you a sense of what we experienced: https://youtu.be/BmPGLkUdQMY.
To get to some of the zip line stations, you had to walk across swinging bridges.
Towards the end of the zip line adventure, they asked us to pose for a picture, here’s a couple of us striking a pose.
In Rotorua, you can visit a Māori Village and experience a typical ceremonial dinner where chicken, pork, and fish are cooked to perfection. Cooked in a hole in the ground covered by palm leaves, the meat soaks up the juices resulting in a deliciously tender treat.
After dinner, local Māori stage a ceremonial dance. They arrive via canoe and make their way to the stage chanting along the way. Although very theatrical, you begin to learn more about the yesteryear of Māori tribes.
To confuse and intimidate their enemy, they approach warfare with wide bulging eyes, loud screams and tongues extended. They were also known to be cannibals. They didn’t eat humans from sheer love of flesh, instead, it was to gratify a revenge. It’s been told that Captain Cook lost 10 men to Maori cannibalism at Queen Charlotte Sound in Wharehunga Bay in 1777.
The Māori are a proud people and have done a great job of keeping their heritage alive in New Zealand. Kiwis respect, understand and appreciate the history of the Māori – the indigenous people of New Zealand.
What Glows Brightly in New Zealand?
Tucked away in Waitomo New Zealand is a cave that’s over 30 million years old. Found by local Māori Chief Tane Tinorau in 1887 (and accompanied by an English surveyor Fred Mace), they built a raft of flax stems and with candles as their only lighting, floated into the cave where the stream goes underground. To their surprise, the ceiling of the cave glowed in a way that resembled stars in the Milky Way.
After closer inspection, they found stringy mucous-like larvae lining the cave ceiling.
The larvae are commonly referred to as glow worms. They are actually fungus gnats that are bioluminescent in their larval stage. They produce a blue-green light and the larvae spin sticky webs to catch food. They are found in caves, overhangs, rock cavities, and other sheltered, wet areas.
The Waitomo Glowworm Caves continue to be managed and run by Chief Tane Tinorau’s descendants and they receive about 400,000 visitors annually.
Our next blog will take us to the movie set of The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, in Hobbiton. We will also explore Wai-o-Tapu Thermal Wonderland and visit Huka Falls.
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I’ll leave you with an image I snapped of beautiful New Zealand when traveling the north island.