|Yesterday we drove down from the Queenstown to Te Anau. Last night we took a boat across Lake Te Anau to a cave system where we got to see a raging underground river. We took a short boat ride on a quiet part of the river in the dark so that we could see thousands of glow worms!!!! They are actually a type of fly that is unique to New Zealand. When the eggs become worms, they build a nest and hang down silk laden with a paralyzing toxin. Then they sit at the top and their butt glows a beautiful blue-green!! The light attracts other flies and insects that have made it into the dark cave. when the insect comes towards the light they get trapped in the silk and the worm gets a meal. The hungrier the worm the brighter they glow! It was like being 2-3 feet away from the stars in the sky--that's what it looked like in the dark cave with tiny glowing dots on the roof of the cave.Unbelievable!
Today we visited Fiordlands National Park. Did a few trails and went on a cruise of Milford Sound. It's not actually a sound, it is a fiord--I didn't know there were formal definitions, but evidently there is a difference. It was named incorrectly and they just haven't changed it! The mountains are so high that it just doesn't seem real. The waterfalls look beautiful and large, but when you see the ship next to them you realize that they are humongous! We saw seals and dolphins in the fiord! We also got to go to an underwater observatory--really neat to see the fish underwater (not an aquarium, all natural). Black coral, snake starfish, 11 legged starfish, camouflaged fish (don't remember their names), and more.
Heading to Dunedin tomorrow... Note to anyone who wants to do a long vacation: Plan rest days with nothing planned once every 2 weeks! This vacation is exhausting :) but it is remarkable and thoroughly enjoyed.