Ranjit Reminisces: Goosebumps and Glowworms
Whilst worms do not look all too pleasing on the eye, give them a ray of light and suddenly you can’t get your eyes off them! Indeed, the Waitomo Caves in New Zealand are home to the unique species of worms known as ‘Arachnocampa luminosa’ that intermittently light up and receive undivided attention from the human eye. Indeed, the saying ‘keep your eyes peeled’ applies quite literally as one must look up at the cave ceiling and continue to stare in anticipation of a sudden scattering of turquoise as the worms radiate their light. The image it depicts is not too dissimilar to what one might experience during Northern Lights, except with the Glowworms the likelihood of seeing them light up is significantly higher! Glowworms appear to seek attention and when the crowds of tourists pass by their territory, they like to let them know they are being watched.
The journey to the Waitomo Caves starts in a wet suit. At this point you are politely reminded not to ‘relieve’ yourself inside your wet suit and instead ensure you make yourself comfortable prior to the cave expedition. You have been warned! On your way towards the entrance of Waitomo Caves, you will walk past a plethora of sheep farms, which defines a huge part of New Zealand’s identity. The tour starts with the joys of ploughing through ice cold water and crawling up and down inconsistent rocks. Thereafter the real fun begins as you get yourself into a swim ring and lay back as it is now time for the Glowworms to fulfil their part in the journey through Waitomo Caves.
Whilst floating down the water, there were two Danish girls in my tour group who decided to sing a rather tranquil sounding song in their own dialect, which added to the ambience of the surroundings. Indeed, all tour members heads remained firmly upwards awaiting the performance of the tour courtesy of the Glowworms. And boom, the cave ceiling explodes into 50 shades of green. This was complimented with 50 whispers of ‘wow’ from tour group members. Unfortunately cameras aren’t allowed in the Waitomo Caves, although it is probably a blessing as it ensures that you view the Glowworm effect through your own eyes only.
In the latter stages of the tour you have the opportunity to test your body flexibility and susceptibility to small confined spaces. The tour guides led us to the smallest hole in the cave and suffice to say that one can imagine what is must have been like for ‘los 33’ – the Chilean miners who found themselves in such a predicament for so many months!
Book onto the most popular combo package, Glowworm Cave & Ruakuri Cave for NZ $122 at:
Quite simply worm your way through the caves to witness an instant glow!
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