It’s raining!!! Today we wake to the sound of rain on the roof. It is not heavy but seems to be persistent. After breakfast and packing up we head off to get some petrol and to drive to Te Kuiti. The rain eases to a mizzle for about an hour then becomes heavier again for a while just as we get to some steep winding roads. I take heed of the “slippery when wet” signs as the road is quite slow going. At eleven we stop for a coffee and then proceed straight through Te Kuiti to the Waitomo Caves. The Waitomo Caves complex consists of a large number of caves and many different tours are available from basic walking/sightseeing to adventurous abseiling and rafting in the caves. Maree elects not to go on a rafting tour and, as I don’t wish to leave her for the two hours it would take, I concur. We did take the basic Glow worm Caves trip which involves a walk through some fairly ordinary limestone caves and then a ride in a boat through a cave with lots of glow worms. The caves are managed and staffed by the local Maori who provide the tour guides. I was here more than 25 years ago and it has certainly changed since then. The information centre/ticket office is a magnificent structure which has been made using arches of local timber supporting lightweight coverings. It looks quite amazing!
After lunch we drove to Otorahanga where there is a bird zoo which includes an Kiwi house. Maree decided that she would like to go there and who am I to disagree. The kiwi were in a nocturnal display which is deliberately 12 hours out of synch with the rest of the world and the two birds on display were rushing about doing their thing. The rest of the displays were reasonably thoughtfully done and we enjoyed a restful half hour or so looking at fine specimens of New Zealand bird life with the occasional lizard or skink also on display.
Arrived at our hotel, which is some way out of town, having decided to eat in so we stopped at the local supermarket and stocked up on frozen meals, yoghurt and some pastries for desert. When dinner time arrived it was just a case of read the instructions, pop in the microwave, heat and eat. This was about one third of the cost of eating in a cafe, bistro or restaurant. Not as tasty of course! We spent quite some time relaxing over sudoku, crosswords and code-crackers as well as some Kiwi TV.
We have just heard (8:00pm breaking news) that an earthquake of strength 4.8 has struck New Plymouth where we were this morning. I have been waiting to feel an earthquake since we arrived in New Zealand and it has to happen in a town we just left. Drat!!!