New Zealand Adventure: Day 3 (Glow worms)Posted: January 18, 2012
Queenstown, NZ Day 3
This is another guest post by my good friend Jacob Matthews. Please enjoy and watch for more posts of this 8 day NZ adventure!!
After another night of being lulled to sleep by the sweet sounds of techno beats we woke up bright and early for a 7:30 am bus-ride to the small town of Glenorchy on the north side of Lake Wakatipu for a full day of Jet Boating and Kayaking on the Dart River. A little sleep deprived and still jet lagged we make our way down the street to the shuttle. Upon walking to the bus stop we discover that it’s cloudy, slightly chilly and rainy out. A little saddened that the rain would possibly hamper our day 3 adventures we made the ride along side the beautiful Lake Wakatipu towards the Dart River. Once we arrived there we were given the option to reschedule due to the weather. So we opted to do that and hope for nicer weather later in the week. After rescheduling we took the bus back down to Queenstown and regrouped to make other plans for the misty day.
We caught a quick breakfast, some much-needed caffeine, and then headed back to hostel to rest a little bit. On the way back to the room we stopped by the travel desk in the lobby of the hostel to see what we could do on a rainy day…. and then it hit us: GLOW WORM CAVE! Yep! You read it right! New Zealand and Australia are some of the only places on the planet where you can explore underground caves that house thousands of glow worms that sparkle along the roof of the caves. So we booked a 2pm tour at some caves near Te Anau, another small town about 2 hours south of Queenstown. Once confirmed on the trip we went back up to the room. Our room was small, but had all the necessities like a mini fridge, bathroom and a small TV with about 4 channels. One of those channels was a movie channel. This was our first downfall. When we sat down we got sucked into watching… you guessed it…the new Karate Kid.
After watching the entire movie and loosing track of time, we realized we had exactly 2 hours to make a 2 1/2 hour drive to TeAnau. Running to the car, with the Justin Beiber song “Never Say Never” in our heads from the Karate Kid credits we pulled out the old school paper map and very quickly headed down to Te Anau. The clouds and rain had moved out, and it was turning out to be a pretty nice day. (Dear Parents – IGNORE THIS PART) Hurling & Winding through a two-lane mountain pass, down the length of 2 lakes, and across many sheep pastures we finally make it to Te Anau. By a minor miracle and by the grace of God we made it to the boat for the glow worm tour with 4 minutes to spare, even after a couple of picture stops along the way!
Now, just so you know Thomas and I sat several goals for the trip of things we both wanted to check off “the list.” Here are just a few:
*Skydiving – Check!
*Be the life of the party somewhere – not yet.
*Pick up a hitchhiker – nope.
*Practice our New Zealand or Australian accents – Constantly checking this off the list!
With that said we hopped on the boat, which was to ferry us across Lake Te Anau and to the caves. We quickly grabbed a seat and started conversation with a few people seated around us from Australia. They asked where we were from. Thomas replied “The States… Tennessee to be exact.” And all of a sudden the Aussies gasped, said “No Way!” and started laughing. They yelled at this group of high school Aussie Girl Scouts (to one girl Haylee in particular), and told them we were from Tennessee. Immediately, this huge group of Australian Girl Scouts swarmed us and started chattering away. Apparently, this girl, Haylee, in their group has been infatuated with Tennessee, the southern accent and country music. She went on and on about how her biggest dream is to move to Nashville and live. She tried to speak in a Southern accent for us, which was really funny. It sounded like southern meets Australian with Aussie slang. Our loud and comical conversation was captivating all the attention from everyone on the boat, and we soon realized that we could check another goal off the list. We became the life of the party, there was no doubt about it. (pictures of this whole event were on Thomas’s iPhone which, as most of you know…was lost tragically while canoeing down the Dart River on Day 4…a moment of silence…..)
We arrived at the docks for the cave, disembarked the boat and made our way into the cave. First let me say our tour guide was the “tour guide nazi” type – super strict, extremely knowledgeable, and loved her job/caves. I could tell Thomas and I were gonna get into some sort of trouble. The cave was really dark and we followed the procession of our group into the dark depths. She pointed out several waterfalls and formations as we made our way to the glow worms. There was a river running through the entire cave system and the sound of moving water echoed off all the walls. Finally, we made it to this little boat near the rear of the cave. She told us to step in and have a seat. She also told us to be very, very quiet and just “take in and absorb the beauty, awe and splendor of the worms.” Thomas and I looked at each other and kind of chuckled. All the lights went out in the cave and our guide pushed us along the underground river to the worms. All of a sudden we looked up and it was like tens of thousands of little stars glowing and shimmering on the roof of the cave. It is probably one of the coolest things I’ve seen in my life, but we weren’t able to take pictures which was a bummer. Here are some from the internet to show a portion of what it was like.
As we cruised through the dark admiring the glowing specs in silence I was immediately reminded of a scene from the movie “Euro Trip” where these kids go through a pitch-black train tunnel in Europe. A strange Italian man puts his hand on another guy’s leg, they emerge from the tunnel, where the kid has a perplexed look on his face and the Italian says “mi scusi”. (To watch the scene go here: http://youtu.be/ivSMNbaXRSE ) I for some reason felt the need to reenact the scene in the cave. So I did what any movie buff would do and quickly put my hand on Thomas’ leg and said “mi scusi!” We both died laughing. It must have been like a quarter of a second after I said “mi scusi” and our nazi tour guide immediately blinds us with this massive spot light and proceeds to “SHHH” us. Well, that only made us laugh more. Needless to say we “ruined” the ambiance and were on her bad list, but the cave was amazing and we had a good laugh out of it.
We took the ferry back to Te Anau, said good-bye to our new Aussie Girl Scout friends, grabbed a quick bite to eat, and headed back to Queenstown making sure to stop plenty for random pictures. That night we met up with our Brazilian friends from Skydiving at the club at our hostel. We partook in a few Euro dance beats of our own with our new friends and retired for the night as we rested up for our big day on the glacier the next day. With it being another 4-hour drive we needed some rest, as we knew tomorrow would be another early morning and long day of adventure.
To be continued…