New Zealand North Island 2017 travel blog

Waitomo Caves visitor centre

Waitomo Caves restaurant and gift shop

Waitomo Caves restaurant tables & seating

Waitomo valley view

Mangapohue Natural Bridge, me on walkway

Mangapohue Natural Bridge walkway

Mangapohue Natural Bridge

Mangapohue Natural Bridge walkway & stairs

Mangapohue Natural Bridge return path

Marakopa Falls

Himself

Tarawa Tramping boot cemetary

Toi Toi Cafe

Kea at Otorohanga Kiwi House

Tuatara at Otorohanga Kiwi House


Waitomo Caves Fri 6th Jan 12-20°C cloudy,showers.

Set off for Waitomo caves at about 9:00, after trying unsuccessfully to book online or by phone. Nice drive down, but clouds were closing in. Arrived at 10:15 and managed to get two tickets on the 10:30 Glowworm cave tour. Lucky, as we were trying to book on the 2pm tour originally, except the webserver kept crashing.

The glowworm cave tour was part walking tour through the dry part of the cave where our guide was very informative and entertaining, then when we boarded the boats she asked us to please be very quiet and enjoy the journey. It was a really lovely experience, almost total darkness with the many glowworms like a multitude of stars all around and reflected in the water. I liked it, and Mel was speechless for a while after. There’s also a nice reasonably priced cafe, where we had a late breakfast.

http://www.waitomo.com/Waitomo-Glowworm-Caves/Pages/default.aspx

We drove another 24km down the winding road through beautiful scenery and views, I’ve never seen so many large tree ferns, to Mangapohue Natural Bridge. There was good parking just off the road, a 10 minute walk along a good track, boardwalk, and short suspension bridge over a clear stream through a lovely gorge. Steps take you up beneath the arch that forms the natural bridge, where there are great photo opportunities. We found it was best to walk back the same way and enjoy the gorge again. The loop track, although nice, goes through a farm along a muddy track.

Another 5km down, we parked at the start of the 600 metre return trail to Marakopa Falls. The track was easy, but downhill all the way, the last part steep and wet until it levels out at the the viewing platform. The falls are beautiful, worth every step. The Marakopa River drops 35 metres, forming a wide cascade. Said to be the prettiest falls in New Zealand, I can believe that.

Before heading back up SH37, we went down another 2 km to the nice little Toi Toi Cafe, good spot for a cuppa and cake, ice-cream and a toilet break. Drove back on the SH3 to Otorohanga, where we followed the prominent signs for the 900 metre detour to the Otorohanga Kiwi House and Native Bird Park. $24 entry per adult, good value as a similar place we missed due to rain was $50 entry. We saw a kiwi up close in a nocturnal house, Tuataras (which predated dinosaurs) in two enclosures, the large native Kaka and Kea parrots, and many others in a well laid out conservation park. They also have an active Kiwi and native falcon breeding program.

Definitely worth stopping for an hour or longer. http://kiwihouse.org.nz

A great day out, back to our apartment to pack for our flight out tomorrow.



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