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Day #4 – On The Road Again

We got up early and headed out this morning. We had a short two hour drive from Rotorua to Waitomo. The drive across the country was beautiful. There’s lots of lush, green farmland and sheep are everywhere.

It seems that everywhere you go in this country there’s a bakery on the corner so along the way we stopped in a little town called Kihikihi at Viands Bakery. What an amazing stop this turned out to be. They had a wonderful case full of the most decadent looking pastries and my personal favorite….meat pies. I’m becoming addicted to these things. It’s going to be a sad day when we leave and I can’t get them anymore. Anyway, in reading about Viands after we left I see they are famous for their award winning pies. The New Zealand Herald says “They have won more pie awards than most people have had hot dinners.” One thing for sure, our food was spectacular!

With full bellies we headed out for the last hour of our journey but before leaving this charming little town we stopped back up the hill at a small historical area. They had an old police station, jail, cottage and church. It was Sunday so they were closed but we did spend a half hour or so walking the grounds and enjoying the beautiful sunshine.

When we arrived in Te Kuiti which is just minutes from Waitomo, our first order of business was to stop and check into Tutanekai’s Cottage, our Air B&B for the night. Well, we certainly hit the jackpot with this little gem! OH MY! This little house was absolutely perfectly appointed and the art and decorations made it so special. It even had beautiful gardens outside where you could just sit and relax and enjoy the flowers and outdoor decorations. And, our Host and Hostess even left freshly baked raspberry muffins on the table and milk and eggs in the refrigerator.

Janet & Theo, our hosts, own the home and live next door in a beauty of a place that is a renovated schoolhouse. What delightful people! They gave us the warmest of welcomes and offered to provide us with anything at all that we needed from information on the area to fresh vegetables from their own garden. They even invited us for cocktails with their friends later that evening. We just can’t say enough about these fabulous people and the amazing accommodations. They even had beautiful robes in the closet for us to use and little shampoos and lotions in our rooms. It was like staying in a five star resort. If you are ever in the area and need a place to stay, this IS THE ONE! But I’d say you better book early because this place is going to take off like gangbusters. Thank you again Janet & Theo. Our stay there was the highlight of our trip!

We checked into this delightful house and took a breather for a bit. Then, it was off to the Waitomo Glowworm Caves. New Zealand is home to an interesting species of glowworms. The Arachnocampa luminosa is only found here. The glowworm is actually the larval or maggot stage of a fungus gnat fly. The adult looks a bit like a mosquito. They typically spend their entire lives inside of a cave.

The reason they are called glowworms is because they actually glow with a bluish light. This is created from a biochemical reaction called bioluminescence which takes place at the terminal end of the renal glands of the larval worm. This light is called a “cold” light which is pure and has almost no associated heat. They use this light to attract small flying insects that are lost in the darkness of the caves. Adult female can also produce this light which is said to help them attract a mate.

The glowworms attach a silk hammock to the cave ceiling. They gather food by building a network of silk threads that hang vertically around the hammock. The silk threads have droplets of a very sticky mucus that traps the flying insect. Once trapped the worm simply pulls the thread up to the hammock and into its mouth where it sucks out the juices and spits out the hard parts. Kind of like a human eating chicken wings. LOL

The cave here in Waitomo is absolutely huge! As we were guided down into the cave they stopped in an open area called the cathedral, and for good reason. It’s an enormous open area with spectacular acoustics. Apparently some people actually hold their wedding in this part of the cave. It would certainly make for some interesting photographs. Speaking of which, the photos here are either from their Facebook page or from photos I took of some postcards Mary purchased. They won’t let you take photos inside the caves. Of course they will happily take them for you and sell them to you. It seems everyone has their hand out in this country.

Photo Found at Waitomo Glowworm Caves Facebook Site

The tour of the caves lasted about an hour. They led us through the cathedral area and around some tunnels and then we went down into an area that is completely black, with the exception of thousands of blue dots that look like stars on the ceiling. Once you go down the stairs you are escorted onto a small boat that holds eight or ten people. The guide then pulls the boat through the water using these lines they have installed between the cave walls. This part of the tour maybe lasted about ten minutes before they led the boat out into the light and dropped us at a small dock.

While it was certainly an interesting experience, we’re not sure it was entirely worth the $53 NZD/person entrance fee. (That’s approximately $36 USD) There are caves in New Zealand that you can explore for free and see the same things. Knowing what we know now we’d probably have opted for that option. Don’t get us wrong, they have something pretty cool stuff to see there but the price is a little steep for what you get. Apparently, however, they have no shortage of tourists willing to spend the money so as they say, “it’s all supply & demand.”

After leaving the caves we stopped back in town at a little restaurant at the old railroad station for an early dinner. It’s called the Stoked Eatery and the food was pretty tasty. It was a nice warm day and we enjoyed our meal sitting outside watching the trains come by. Then it was back to the house to relax and get ready for the long drive the following day.

Next stop….Wellington, the capital of New Zealand.


Dan & Jilly

Oh yeah, one last thing….it appears Dan has his own line of lawnmowers. We saw this one in a store window in town here. Who knew?

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Road Tripping Dazzler Style!

It probably sounds funny to say that we are going to be taking a vacation. Most of you probably look at us and think we are on a permanent vacation right? Well, as you’ve seen lately we do spend a lot of time working on the boat and sometimes it’s just nice to get away for a change. That said, it’s time for the Dazzler crew to take to the land and see more of this amazing country.

Our dear friends, Mary and Jack will be here tomorrow and we will be taking a three week tour of the South Island here in New Zealand. If you’ve been following us for a while you know Jack is our friend who arranged to get our new Honda generator, also named Jack, to us in Nuka Hiva. He and his dear wife are two of our best friends and we can’t wait to explore New Zealand with them. We’ve booked Air B&B’s to stay in along the way and we’re all ready for a few weeks of fun and adventure….landlubber style! By the way, if you come to NZ and you want to travel, Air B&B IS the way to go. Hotels we looked at along the way were rather costly, the range of $200 NZ per couple, per night or more. The homes we’ve book are two or three bedroom homes and are $170-$210 per night for all four of us! And since we will be in homes with full kitchens we won’t have to eat out the entire time. We do love a good dinner out but sometimes it gets old. Of course there’s thee added bonus of having comfortable space around where we can all relax and enjoy each other rather than having to sit in some hotel lounge or crowd into a room and sit on the beds. We’ll provide a link to Air B&B for each home we stay and and we’ll be sure to let you know the pros and cons of each place.

Our journey will take us over 1000 miles south from Whangarei to Queenstown and then back again. We will be visiting geothermal pools and mud ponds in Rotorua, experience a true Hangi dinner with a Māori tribe, tour the Glowworm Caves of Waitomo via boat, have dinner on a streetcar while touring Christchurch, explore Hokitika and its artsy side, visit Hobbiton, the move set where the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings movies were filmed, see the Southern Alps and much more.

And as a special treat the owner, Vajin Armstrong, of Gandharva Loka, a music store in Christchurch, is actually making special arrangements to open up just for the Dazzler Crew so Jilly can pick up a couple of tin whistles and maybe some other interesting instruments. Can’t wait to see all the unique instruments Vajin has to offer.

Yes, this journey is sure to be an amazing one full of laughs, awesome adventures and lots of beautiful sights. We sure hope you’ll follow along to learn about this awesome country and all of the incredible people who live here.

Away We Go!

See you down the road. Cheers!

Until next time,

Jilly & Dan