Ali and Pete in New Zealand 2012 travel blog

Another fantastic NZ rainforest tree

Not a flattering shot, but impressive caving skills I think you'll agree

Expert caver

The last couple of days have been full of highlights. First it was a visit to Gwenda, mother of Jean's best friend when they lived in NZ. We were treated to home made cake and cookies, and even had a doggie bag to take away.

Then a night of true Kiwi hospitality. We found a great farm just north of Hamilton run by a very friendly couple, who invited us to join their BBQ with friends. Food and wine flowed freely, and we found we had a lot in common with the friends, who have a boat of a similar size to Rosita and have spent several years cruising the Pacific islands.

The campervan was parked for the night at the top of their field, surrounded by sheep, with another panoramic vista all to ourselves.

At their recommendation we moved on this morning to Nikau Caves, which is well off the beaten track in limestone country. After a breakfast of toasties with home made bread we went into the cave with Nina, a marine biology student and excellent guide. She had asked if we were claustrophobic and happy to crawl through a stream, but little did we know what was coming!

We descended into an impressive hole in the earth with just a torch each for company. There were no walkways, it was a case of making our way over and under rocks and along the stream, until we came to a vertical slit in the rock dropping five foot into a dark passageway. Nina (slim, 19 and athletic) went first with no difficulty. Ali followed, saw the tight squeeze through and had a bit of a panic attack. Pete, helpfully, offered to take a photo of my bum. However, I recovered my equilibrium and slithered on my belly in the stream, 30 feet through a very low passageway indeed. Not complaints from Pete, who was singing as he came through!

After that it was all good, and we saw enormous stalactites and mites, including the biggest stalagmite in the Southern hemisphere (again allegedly) and a fantastic show of glow worms when we turned our torches off.

The whole trip was 1km long and took an hour and a half. Fantastic!! I was buzzing all the way back to the campervan, having got through in one piece, and then spent the next half hour getting the grit out of my undies (nuff said)!

The pictures may not be flattering, but they give a good impression I think.

Bring on the next adventure!

Which turned out to be a navigational error resulting in an hour's extreme driving along a gravel track with views to die for. We managed to 'forget' that we've signed a disclaimer saying that we won't go along gravel tracks!

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