Day 6: Hamilton to National Park
Take notes. If we could go back in time we would have rented a campervan instead of a car. It would have saved us a ton of trouble. But don't worry. This was the last time we had any problems with finding a room. We finally wised up and started calling from the great i-Sites that are everywhere and booking our rooms ahead of time. No more nasty. That is mean of me to say. Every place we had stayed at so far but this one (the fantastic Knights Motel in Hamilton) was so unique and charming.
Meandering through a murky jungle....
to the plunging breathtaking Bridal Veil Falls.
Ripe with beauty. Flooded with gratitude. One with the environment.
Bright yellow lupines catch my eye and their scent awakens some dark dusty place in me. I couldn't help but pluck one to keep. I loved that dear lupine and smelled it daily. Can't believe I threw it out of the car on my last day there. Note - press in journal next time. It pains me that I don't have it.
We thought we took a shortcut on the map, from Raglan to Kawhia, but it ended up being 50 km of a long gravel road, washed out in some places, windy and neverending. Kawhia is a tiny seaside town of 650 people, known mostly for its black sand beaches and hot springs that bubble from them.
Through the trees and over the dark dunes
To black sand beaches we go.
You couldn't go barefoot unless you stood in the water
No one else in sight
Feeling the water lets me know, this is not a dream.
but can't. One last sit to look upon, observe. Fill my physical need for that warm soak-in-the-sand heat. I can't get enough. Loving the burn.
Grateful for the earth's bounty
Note - When it is just you and your man at the black sand beach - DO NOT LEAVE.
Driving through small beach towns. Matt had been hankering to try some of their kumara chips (NZ sweet potatoes). They're not as good as their ketchup.
But their teeny tiny library made up for it. Matty's mom works at a library, so we can't help but notice all of them. They are near and dear to our hearts. Speaking of books, NZ has more bookstores per capita than anywhere. NZ just keeps getting better and better.
Going down down down this spiral ramp into Ruakuri Cave in Waitomo.
Everyone needs to wash before entering and after leaving the caves to abide by the tapu (Maori traditional sacredness) and protect them from the spirits within (bodies have been buried in these caves).
Walking under limestone formations and over the black water stream. They offer tours through it. They suit you up and you float down on little tubes, you even get to go off a small waterfall. Another note for next time: Do the blackwater rafting! At the time we thought it was too much, time and money. But after doing our tours and wishing we were doing the rafting we realized it would not have been too much more. Darn it!
Posing. At one point they turned off the lights and had us walk by glowworm light which is no light at all. I was holding on to the railing for dear life, with only my fingertips because it was wet and slimy. All you could hear was the water rushing below. You better believe I screamed like a baby girl when an old man caught up to me and his hand slid over mine. Shocked everyone out of their togs.
They call this place the Pretties.
Trying to fit in.
Our last tour, and their last tour of the day. Waitomo Glowworm Caves. No pictures were allowed. And for some reason that stopped us this time. In this tour we were gently glided over the black underground lake in a small boat, no lights, just glowworms all above us like a new universe.
"Human beings have a consciousness by which we can appreciate love, beauty, creativity, and innovation or mourn the lack thereof. To the extent that we can go beyond ourselves and ordinary biological instincts, we can experience what it means to be human and therefore different from other forms of life. We can appreciate the delicacy of dew or a flower in bloom, water as it runs over the pebbles, or the majesty of an elephant, the fragility of the butterfly, or a field of wheat or leaves blowing in the wind. Such aesthetic responses are valid in their own right, and as reactions to the natural world they can inspire in us a sense of wonder and beauty that in turn encourages a sense of the divine." - Wangari Maathai, in Replenishing the Earth (I'm currently reading and loving this, from here on out there will probably be a quote by her in every post.)
-- more NZ 2010 --
Day 1: Auckland
Day 2: Orewa to Paihia
Day 3: Paihia to Kaitaia
Day 4: Ninety Mile Beach to Rawene
Day 5: Rawene to Hamilton
Day 6: Hamilton to National Park
Day 7: Tongariro Alpine Crossing
Day 8: Taupo to Rotorua
Day 9: Rotorua
Day 10: Thames to Hahei
Day 11: Coromandel