Monday, February 29, 2016

Dreaming of Glowworms at Waitomo!

On our 2nd day in Rotorua we started early for Waitomo, where the caves famous for harboring the glowing worms are located. Before seeing it i have been thinking of reasons why the worms will glow in the dark, inside the caves. I know of organisms with bio-luminiscense just like our firefly, equipped with an enzyme that glows in the dark. But for worms to exhibit that truly amaze me. I read about it, but seeing them with my own eyes is a different experience.

It was a wonderful bus ride from Rotorua to Waitomo, with the landscapes on both sides giving me the views i have been envisioning about New Zealand; undulating topography, very green grazing farms with flocks of dairy cattle and herds of sheeps! The sheep looks like small caterpillars at a distance. Oh they fed my hungry soul for nice natural landscapes.

 a typical view of dairy cattle grazing on the farms

This undulating green fields are efficiently mowed by herds of white sheep, 
which at a distance looks like either caterpillars or small rocks.

 They are newly sheared sheep because it is summer there in December

This wide trellised field of growing crops can probably be peas or whatever legumes.

After1.5 hours we reached Waitomo, and the famous Waitomo Caves. We first landed at the i-site, where brochures and guides are located. 

 A Maori shade structure with Maori art, i badly need a personal tourist photo!

We then walked about 15 min to the entrance of the cave. My sister didn't come with me inside as she has been there last year. I just joined all the tourists who were counted per group to board the boat. There are regular boat intervals to enter the cave. We walked a few minutes down to the water lever and there are stops where guides tell us about the caves and the glow worms.

(This Photo is submitted by forevergone to  from: Huffingtonpost). We were not allowed to speak while in the boat, much more take pictures. I wonder why there are lots of glow worm pictures in the internet, if this rule is truly implemented. But it was really an amazingly incredible sight. Reading the biology and life cycle of the glow worms will further increase your enthusiasm.  

Our boat emerged from this exit of the cave. There are strings above the head level, where the boatmen guides hold on to as their guides to the path. We didn't see anything inside except the natural structures of the cave and the glow worms. This is another episode of my trip which cannot be duplicated.

The stairs from the river led us to this lovely facility, where i also took some flowers and plants photos.

A lovely structural design of the facility housing the restaurant and souvenir shops after going through the glow worm caves.

Instead of directly going to the I-site meeting place where the bus picks us up for Auckland, we first follow a trail near the road. It was a small one that leads to the parking lot, near the mainroad to the I-site. It was a ver lovely commune with nature as we passed this wooden bridge, seeing the plants we saw along the way.

 There was this tree with holes presumably done by a woodpecker or whatever animal that poked on the trunk. We laughed at the persistence of a few mushrooms growing luxuriantly on the holes. What a very resourceful mushroom!

The right photo shows my sister already at the end of the path, already on the open space.

We immediately sat on the grass upon emerging from the forest path. It was both relaxation and regurgitation of the things we have been through. It was a lovely leisurely 1-hour walk. And we ate the snacks we brought in our bags. We were laughing while eating, after which we started walking to the I-site.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Gallivanted on Volcanoes

In the afternoon of our first day in Rotorua, New Zealand we went to the Thermal Park. This primarily is the purpose of our trip here this weekend. Rotorua is just about 3 hours and 30 minutes bus ride from Central Auckland, so easy for us to reach. We were only 5 persons in the van from Rotorua to Wai-o-tapu Thermal Park, 27 km south of Rotorua. The driver-guide parked his van outside the gate of the park and gave us the meeting time at the end of our volcanic walk.

My sister and i were so excited in looking at how volcanoes look like. We have lots of volcanoes in my country, but definitely not as "kind"as these volcanoes are. Nobody seems to be in a hurry or scared that there will be sudden explosions, everybody enjoy the craters in their own sweet happy time. Wai-o-tapu has been described äs one of the most surreal places in the world. The landscape was sculptured thousands of years ago by geothermal activity where unique volcanic features can be viewed leisurely from well defined tracks.  The three walks are from 30 to 75 minutes. We of course chose the longest one, completely enumerating every nooks and cranies! 

 This is a common scene of volcanic vents even in my country. There are just some oozing muds and bubbles, not very spectacular at first. Some of these craters we see at our entrance. We immediately let the camera work, thinking these might be the most spectacular already.

This is the start of our walk, we intended to follow the red arrow, but eventually we followed all the colors of the arrow. Anyway, our driver gave us more than 1.5 hrs.

 Then as we walk, there are cascades of water flows that leave mineral deposits hardening the paths.

 There are also holes that really looks scary if someone accidentally falls in them. I am sure these holes go direct to the center of the boiling earth.

 Surrounding the walks are almost dead vegetation, which don't know if these are because of the volcanic fumes or some fungus or microorganisms that destroyed them.

 This could be one of the Artists' Palette as described in the brochure. Are these mineral deposits or lichens i am not so sure too.
 the famous Champagne Pool

 the central viewing deck looking at the Champagne Pool

or this could be the real Artists' Palette, it is beautifully colored with lots of minerals

A lovely bird walks the seemingly cold rocks, there is also another bird that can walk on hot waters. This could be a male chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs), thanks to Bettyl-NZ for the ID.

 label says Sulphur Cave, hmm, might as well be Devil's cave

 a little waterfall is a welcome sight for me, as if it can wash some fumes  

 A cropped portion of the Champagne Pool. The color depends on the mineral deposits and its chemical reaction with the volcanic water and other ions there producing different lovely colors as they precipitated.
 The walks are very well cared for, both on ground and the rails. I don't think there will be tourists here who will suffer from accidents like falling into the hot waters or into burning craters! Every step is secure, safe and reliable.

 A very lovely color for what they termed as Devil's Bath. It can be exciting to know the etymology of the label.

 Those white flowering bushes are the Manuka tea trees, where the famous Manuka honey come from. The bees love them for their nectar, maybe it is expensive for the minerals and nutrients in the honey that come only from these volcanic soils.

this this already the road on the way back to the gate, where our vehicle is parked

 the label at the EXIT ensures that everyone memorize the name of the park

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Flowers, flowers!

It is a new month once again, time to post a lot of flowers. Since i have been posting everything about New Zealand, i might as well be posting all flowers from there. Flowers are scattered everywhere there, even the weeds are beautifully colored with blooms. If i will not stop, my memory card will all be full of them. And that is almost a literal reality. But mind you, i am living in the Philippines, these are just from my travel there.

 Flowers i am posting here are mostly from the Government Gardens in Rotorua. I might not be familiar with them, i only know a very few ones, but i am sure my temperate country blogger friends are even more familiar with these plants. Labels are not there in the gardens, so i guess they are common ones. But for me they are very uncommon. I am from the tropics, of course, these are novelties for me. Please feel free to provide their identities if you can. Thank you.





red salvia

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