We took off from our hotel at 7 AM this morning. Everything was still closed because apparently December 26th is also considered a national holiday here. We made a 5 hour journey driving to the Waitomo glow worm caves. On the way there, we saw rolling green hills that are comparable to the ones you can see in Lord of the Rings!
I wish I had some more exciting photography to share from today, but unfortunately we were not allowed to take pictures of the glow worms inside the caves! Hopefully I’ll be able to find some pictures online soon that I can share, but for now here are some fun facts about the caves themselves.
The Waitomo Caves
The caves were formed thousands of years ago by underwater lakes and rivers, which carved out the very structures that we were walking inside- it was amazing, the rock that made up the cave walls was thick and the tour guide told us that each of the thick layers took about 1000 years to form! That means the cave we were walking inside today must be over 10,000 years old. As we went deeper in the cave, we also felt the acoustics change. The rock that made up the cave walls absorbed sound creating great acoustics for music. As today was the day after Christmas, it seemed fitting that our tour guide stopped and sang Amazing Grace to us to show us just how the acoustics worked!
The glow worms that are famed in these caves aren’t in fact worms… at least not yet. They are actually the larvae of worms, and the glow effect they produce is from a bioluminescent “cold” light (a light that does not produce heat) and is used by the larvae to attract prey. Other flies are attracted to the glowing light, and as they fly towards it, they get stuck in the larvae’s silk hammock. Once stuck, the larvae pull up their food to eat.
That’s the science behind it, but even without understanding the science, the glow worm caves are pure magic. It feels almost like looking at the night sky with the stars super close to you instead of being so far away! Our tour guide first let us walk under a smaller group of glow worms and next took us on a boat ride through the cave under a bigger group of glow worm.
This was probably one of the favorite sights in New Zealand! Definitely a must see for anyone who chooses to visit here