After arriving in Auckland and spending the first day there, we started our New Zealand road trip in the morning on the next day. I hadn’t surfed since we were in Peru, so I was totally eager to pass by a surfer beach on the way from Auckland to Waitomo, our first official stop. The straight route to Waitomo takes around 2.5h. So a few hours of surfing on the way sounded awesome. We decided to pass by Raglan, a small beachside town, for that. And it would have worked out perfectly fine, had we left Auckland earlier and/or if we hadn’t been totally side tracked by the nature beauty just next to the road. Because of the latter we took lots of little stops at random beautiful spots. All amazing and lots of fun. The only catch was the time by which we finally arrived in Raglan. Around 4.30pm. Much later than we planned! So the long surfing session did not take place anymore, unfortunately. Instead, given we already were off the quickest route to Waitomo anyway, we decided to take the slow but pretty route by the coast just south of Raglan. And this is the picture story :)
‘Off the beaten track’… south of Raglan, along the coast
We took so many breaks along the way as there were countless breath taking landscapes. We even spent the entire sunset on this route on the coast, taking in the beautiful change of colours and the even more beautiful scenery. In the end we arrived in Waitomo only in the evening. But it was totally worth it and we still had two full days to explore the Waitomo Glowworm caves :)
As you know, New Zealand’s nature is one of the most diverse and beautiful in the world. But did you also know that even by simply driving from one amazing place to another, there is so much beauty just next to the road? Driving straight from Waitomo to Whanganui takes around 4 hours and even then you would see lots of beautiful scenery. But it wouldn’t be New Zealand if you couldn’t just slightly divert from the straight route to add even more epic nature to your road trip. When we drove from Waitomo to Whanganui we left around 11 am in the morning (just after check out from the hotel) and took the route to Whanganui via the Whanganui National Park. An incredibly beautiful 6 hour road trip :)
Meet our new friends, the little sheep.. The below photo reminds me a lot on Scotland :)
Welcome to Waitomo Caves, a lovely little village on New Zealand’s North Island. Waitomo Caves is around 3 hours away by car from Auckland if you take the straight road. There are of course scenic routes to get here (e.g. via Raglan) that will easily make the journey from Auckland to Waitomo Caves a 6-hour drive. The word Waitomo comes from the Maori language; ‘wai’ means water and ‘tomo’ means doline or sinkhole. There are three main caves that you can visit in Waitomo Caves: the Waitomo Glowworm Cave, the Ruakuri and the Aranui cave.
Rather than just pleasantly walking and boating around in the Waitomo Glowworm Cave to see the beautiful cave systems with its glowing worms, we thought it’s more fun to do some caving and swimming in super cold water. So we had an early rise this morning to join the Abyss Caving Tour in the Ruakuri Cave. The tour takes around 5 hours in total of which you spent like 3.5 hours in the cave. Once you get to the cave entry and have done a little abseiling exercise, the fun begins. The Abyss Caving entry to the Ruakuri cave is an around 35m hole that is hidden behind trees. Around 10m down it gets quite tight and dark – the moment when you realise ‘yeah, that’s going to be fun’!
Once you arrive down in the cave you are in for cave tubing, whizzing down a flying fox, jumping into water, climbing up waterfalls and squeezing through little holes in the cave system. And, of course, you will see lots of glowing worms. Once you switch off your headlights, everything is 100% dark. You will not be able to see your own hand in front of your eyes. Also, everything is absolutely quiet. There is no noise except water depending where you are in the cave. That’s probably what I liked most – the peacefulness you experience 65m down in the underworld :)
It’s all beginner level and relatively relaxed. If you don’t want to climb up somewhere or don’t feel like jumping into the water, the guides will adjust their tour accordingly. We joined all the activities they proposed which was fun and you get to do lots of different stuff. I wouldn’t have minded though to have done a bit more climbing into separate small cave systems and spent a bit less time in the cold water. Though you do get used to the 7-9 degrees after like 30mins.. Well, I guess I discovered a new hobby to keep an eye open for during the next vacations! Heard there are caves in the Dolomites where you can stay ‘overnight’ – noted down on my travel bucket list!