Danny Yee >> Travelogues >> New Zealand: Coromandel, Central Plateau, Waikato

Waitomo Caves + Rangiri

With Camilla needing to return home early, we had a long drive to get back to Auckland, but we decided to stop off at Waitomo caves anyway.

After lunch in Taumanarui, we got to the Caves just in time for a Glowworm cave tour, running from the carpark. The price for this is somewhat exorbitant — $28 each for a 40 minute tour — but it's worth it just for five or ten minutes in the dark with thousands of glowworms shining overhead, while the boat glides silently over the water. (No photos are allowed, lest flashes upset the glowworms.)

Afterwards Camilla rang Qantas and arranged a flight for the following morning — there were no evening flights we could make today — and then we drove to Auckland with brief stops in Kihikihi and Hamilton for phone cards and petrol. After some hunting around we found a motel in Mangere, then went out for (very ordinary) Indian.

Thursday 24th February

We got up at 4.30am, checked the oil and water, and drove to the airport, where Camilla did some gift shopping before her flight. I stopped at the viewpoint to watch her plane take off, then drove back south in thick fog.

one lane bridge in the fog
Rangiriri Hotel

Trying to stop at Rangiriri I accidentally crossed the river on a one lane bridge (traffic light controlled) and had to turn around and come back; this was a bit scary with such poor visibility in the fog. I looked at the cemetery and the boards with information about the 1863 battle, and failed to find the National Wetland Centre (which appeared to be either shut down or not yet opened).

A detailed account of the battle of Rangiriri is provided by the Royal New Zealand Artillery Association.

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