We came here to see the glowworms. Up close and at daylight, they look like the usual larva hanging at the ceiling, but at night, they glow in a white-bluish color. Put a lot of them together in a dark, moist cave and they become stars of this small haven. They glow to attract food, actually, but the effect is mesmerizing. We booked our tour with Spellbound Glowworm Cave. They accept small group, which avoid us from having the claustrophobic tourist feeling. The tour includes a walk inside a stalagmite-stalactite cave as well. It was 150 NZD. Come with a steady hand and long exposure point for photo taking. Flash photography is not allowed to avoid scaring the worms.
We stayed in Waitomo Caves Guest Lodge, 140 NZD for 1 night. It is a bit pricey for a small town but I guess they needed to make do with whatever customers coming in for the glowworm caves. The accommodation was not bad. We got an overlooking view of the area, decent bed and breakfast is included. The place was filled with flowers and plants. We ate at Huhu cafe which was ok, but pricey.
Next day, we went on a 3 hour drive to Auckland to make sure we return our rental car in time. It was our 1st and last stop of our New Zealand trip. We landed on Nov 7 and flying off on Nov 21 with Qantas Airline. The flight was smooth. We had Brisbane as the layover in both trips. It was 1.25k SGD for the roundtrip. To see an overview on where we went in New Zealand, check out my 1st post.
When we landed, we stayed in Ibis Budget Auckland Airport hotel, a 15 min walk from the airport, or you can wait for the complementary shuttle to drop you off. It was the cheapest hotel near to the airport at 92.87 SGD for a night. The bed was quite hard and there were no toiletries, so I was glad we only stayed overnight. On the second trip back to Auckland, we stayed in Helen’s Airbnb home. She was quite a character: strict on her house rules (specifically the bathroom) but a helpful host. She showed us how to use the public transport and how to walk around the area. She has an aloft dog, Rufus, who I enjoyed trying to catch his attention. The bed was decent and she also offered light breakfast. It was 152 SGD for 2 nights.
We only use the public transportation to go to downtown. Most of the time, we just walked around the area. We used airport shuttle, SuperShuttle, to drive us back to the airport. It costed 43 NZD for both of us. We could have booked with Airbus Express (now called SkyBus NZ), which was 11 NZD cheaper, but we didn’t know they could pick up at 4am.
We met with Mark and his wife. Mark was my former Kiwi colleague in Singapore who settled back home. I didn’t catch the name of the restaurant we dine into, but I guess it wasn’t memorable, just typical pub food. We missed trying out a famous seafood place since it was packed. Basically, we chose the wrong night, Friday, to dine out peacefully 😉
We saw a group of children perform a Haka dance on the streets. It was quite cute, even though it is supposed to be a war cry :D. Here is a sample on a Maori Haka performance. Kiwis are very proud of their heritage.
It might be strange to do on a holiday trip, but we actually watched a movie at our last day. We just wanted to relax to cap the trip. Movie tickets are expensive though, 18 NZD per person. I guess it beats walking for 2 hours. We ended the day with a delicious feast at Depot Eatery. The waiting list is quite long, so make sure to put your name before the peak dining hours (they don’t accept phone reservation). They will send you a sms when your table is almost ready.
We didn’t plan much in the Auckland segment so I can’t mention any places or attraction to check out. We came to New Zealand mostly for nature and LOTR. Overall, I am very pleased with this journey. It will definitely be in our memories for a very long time.