Glow Worm Caves

The Coolest Thing I Did in New Zealand

There are so many fun things to see here but by far my favorite has been the Waitomo Glow Worm Caves. That might not sound like much but they light up the caves like a starry sky. When a tour combined that with intertubing through a dark cave it was too much to resist!

It’s been cold enough here that the last thing I wanted to do was get in icy water for intertubing but they threw in the wetsuit so I figured it was ok. At least I thought it was until I realized how much a tight wetsuit inhibits your agility. I’m not a strong swimmer in the best of circumstances so I hoped with limited agility at least the wetsuit would help me float.

The tour group stiffly walked through a field of honeysuckle and daisies that looked like it was straight out of Hobbiton to reach the entrance of the caves. Once inside the dark of the caverns you could start to see pin pricks of light that looked like stars lighting up the ceiling of the cave. They sparkled amazingly. We went past the glow worm’s webs as we walked into the water. They looked like silver threads, each hanging straight down from the roof. It was similar to some very expensive modern art I’ve seen, but glow worms do it better.

We floated silently along through the caverns with thousands of little lights shining above. It reminded me of the jungle in Bolivia where I saw more stars than I had thought the sky could hold. There was no sound except for the occasional splash or whoops and yells when we reached little waterfalls.

As we floated along, I remembered how I felt before I started to travel, this searching to see if there was more to the world, if there were still things to wonder at. I kept asking myself if this is all there is? A life written out on graph paper? Where was the freedom? Life was routine. It was uninspired. I had 40 years until retirement. Was it just me or was it the life I had built for myself?

Either way, I couldn’t pas up the opportunity to see for myself. In the last few months, I have seen things I found amazing. Things that remind me how much I underestimated the world and how beautiful it is.

Being able to travel and see the world was a dream. And I wasn’t sure just then if it was fulfilling that dream or being shocked by the beauty of the world that was more important. The important thing was to see how amazing life is, in all it’s messy glory. It was important to know that after all the hard times and heartbreak, there are plenty of wonderful things to see if you have the nerve to go looking for them. Of course, no one needs glow in the dark worms to discover that. But it doesn’t hurt to see how beautiful the world can be at the bottom of a cave, shivering in freezing water and in a brutally tight wetsuit.