Glow Worms, Bees, and Free Camping
(Location: Auckland to Rotorua, New Zealand)
Day 3: Heading South from Auckland
We said a sad goodbye to the Hilton, with its fluffy towels, hot shower, and comfortable bed, and headed over to pick up the campervan. Those of you who know me know that I need a real incentive for camping and/or sharing a bathroom. As this was a reconnaissance trip, this seemed to be the best way to see the most places with no firm plans.
The campervan was a 7 meter long Mercedes that had a bathroom, kitchen (including outdoor bbq), and tv. We used none of these items 🙂
After a quick orientation, we were on the road and headed 2 hours south to Waitomo Glow Worm Caves. Yes, glow worms are a real thing.
“The glow worm, Arachnocampa luminosa, is unique to New Zealand. Thousands of these tiny creatures radiate their unmistakable luminescent light as our expert guides provide informative commentary on the Caves’ historical and geological significance.”
Basically, you hike down into a cave (lots of stalactites and stalagmites), then board a large boat for a 15 minute ride to see the glow worms. Unfortunately, you can’t take photos 🙁
From there, we headed east towards Rotorua. Along the way I got stung by a bee. Turns out that New Zealand is famous for honey and these are bees EVERYWHERE. Insane numbers of giant bees. It was raining slightly and we must have seen at least 20 rainbows. We tried to find a holiday park (a.k.a. RV park) but all of them, and all hotel rooms were booked. The aimless wandering, the sulphur smell, and the throbbing bee sting made me cranky so we ended up getting a pizza and “camping” at a scenic overlook between Green lake and Blue lake. This is where we realised that the outlets in the van only work if you are plugged in to external electric.
Day 4: Easter Sunday
We spent the morning at Wai-o-tapu Thermal Wonderland. It was similar to the pools and geysers in Yellowstone, but on a MUCH smaller scale. We waited for the 10:15 eruption of Lady Know geyser, which turned out to be induced using some sort of environmentally friendly soap. From there we continued south to Lake Taupo, where we stopped for lunch and planned our overnight accommodations. We wound up heading into Tongariro National Park and spending the night in Whackapapa (pronounce that our – and remember that W’s are F’s).
The holiday park was mostly empty, likely because of the low clouds and light rain. This was our first holiday park, so we weren’t really sure what to expect. This one was pretty nice, with a generally clean communal kitchen and bathrooms, electric hookup, and a decent wifi signal from our hotspot. There were a few other guests, but we basically had the place to ourselves. Had the weather been better, this place would have AMAZING views of the surrounding vacations, and be a great base for the Tongariro Track (21km day hike). Added to list for future.
Next stop: a vacation from our vacation