The bed and breakfast where we stayed gave us this view from our room!
This place was wonderful! It is owned by a husband and wife who spent five years designing the property. There was not one thing they didn’t think of. The whole place was run on solar energy and water they collected from the rain. It was brand new construction, modern and beautiful.
The Tongariro hike did not happen, but sometimes straying from the original plan can lead to equally if not improved results. Our plan B was to skip the hike, back track two hours and visit the Lost World of the Waitomo caves. It was out of this world and beyond epic.
First let me start by saying, in New Zealand we have yet to sign a waiver. They don’t ask you to sign your life away like they do in the states. I don’t know how I feel about that. I can only believe it is because the law prohibits people here from suing and there’s a 2% tax the government collects to pay for any claims of injury or wrong doing.
At the Waitomo caves we met up with our two guides, Chris and Flynn, along with four other men. At first it was like pulling teeth for the guides to get any one of them to talk. Hmmm… I thought…this is going to be fun. I later found out two of them were Swedes, one was from Estonia and the other was a New Zealand gentleman who was a little softer spoken. With most of our party not speaking very good English, Jill’s internal need for everyone to have fun clicked in and the stupid misunderstood jokes ensued. The guides seemed to pick up what I was laying down decided to have fun of their own.
On the drive out to the caves I asked how long they had been working as guides and both of them acted like it was their first week on the job (not true). I believed them. Jolly Jill was now a little concerned and a little less fun.
We arrived at the destination of the caves, changed into our flattering blue suits and big white boots. From there we needed to RUN down to the platform because torrential rain and side winds decided to up the ante on my nerves. As I was harnessed in and sitting on a bar perched off the platform, I just told myself not to look down the 33 stories to the ground. I began reciting in my head the possible news story of the guides who used bad judgment in questionable weather by letting us continue with our excursion. Before we began our descent Ryan looked at me and says “This was your idea!”
And yes….I take cred for that, because it was AMAZING!!! We abseiled down 33 stories into a lost world of caves. The site and experience was indescribable. We hiked through beautiful rockery which at one point used to be part of the ocean. There was rushing water and fossilized shells and every now and then an eel who did not look all too happy to see us.
Hmmm…about that waiver.
We hiked all through the caves until we found ourselves in complete darkness surrounded by Glowworms (which really are just maggots who leave larva and create string to catch prey.) But maggots don’t sound all that inviting so we will stick with Glowworms…and they were beautiful!”
I’m pretty sure the guides had questions about me doing this hike. Well… with my manicured hands and not being a fit Swede and all. But I was told, like it was a question at some point in time, “Jill, you’re moving along nicely and doing quite well.” But the best compliment of all was when they thought I was in my early thirties and had the same facial features as Heidi Klum. That may have only been because I said I’m often mistaken for her (lie!) and we both have two eyes, a nose and a mouth.
To get out of the cave we had to clip onto a very scary, very tall metal ladder and climb straight up. I wanted to stop…..so…..many….times because my arms were getting tired and I needed to catch my breath. But I didn’t. I climbed that ladder like a boss. The Swedes had nothing on me.
After the caves we drove the two hours back to our place in Tongariro where we barely made it back to have dinner before they closed everything in town….AT 9:00!!
With a full belly, a day full of amazing experiences and full heart…I bid Tongariro goodnight for the last time.