We woke up in the morning and were finally warm, having left the electric heater on all night.New Zealand is cold. I knew that, of course, from researching before we left and helpful tips from current Kiwis, but we hadn’t yet been to a hotel or Air BnB without central heating. Yesterday we woke up with our toes frozen and able to see our breath as we spoke. Henceforth, I only looked at places with both central heat and wifi as well. You know, the essentials of life.
The previous evening, Celia, the home host/property manager, had come by to meet us and brought us 6 farm fresh eggs from her chickens, 2 of which were green shelled! We had a delicious breakfast of fried eggs, leftover baguette, pesto and cheese.
It was also NOT raining, incredibly, and we took a stroll on the property to the trout stream just down the way. Along the way we met Pat, the farmer who owns the property, and his dogs, one of whom accompanied us to the stream.
This was an idyllic place and it made me wish it had been a bit warmer so we could have picnicked there one night. The girl found herself lost in quiet contemplation on the little bridge. (Picture completely staged, people. She never sits still for this long.)
On the way back we ran into Pat again and we had a long chat about the state of farming in NZ. He runs a dairy cow operation, where he gets calves from the dairy farmers in the spring, raises them to the yearling stage and then sends them off to the stud farm and then the dairy for milking and having their calves, and then the cycle repeats. One of his dogs (the big brown one) is a working dog and does all of the shepherding and moving of the herd from one area of the farm to another, where the happy looking cows (I think) munched on grass. At one point the cows started humping each other, which of course the boy exclaimed upon. Turns out, horny cows will hump anything, even without a bull around. Go figure. The actual farmer way of saying this is that the cows are approaching heat. Somewhere around this time, the girl grabbed onto the metal wire fencing to get a closer look…and electrocuted herself on the electric fence. Thankfully, it’s not a big shock and she was more slightly zapped then injured, but STILL.
After this, a drive across country to go to the Waitomo area. I’ve been trying to plan a trip that’s a bit more off the beaten path, and for the most part we’ve been able to do that and have loved it. Here, I failed. There’s supposed to be a hike from a highway stop a bit away that shows a lot of limestone formations and is stunning and unique. Here’s the first part of the hike.
We started on the hike and thought, oh it’s pretty! Then : Umm…this is pretty muddy. And later: Oh man we’re now covered in mud again. Shortly thereafter: Here’s a pool where the trail is flooded! We’ll go around! And then, came an impossible flooding of the trail and we were forced to go back, though not before the girl electrocuted herself AGAIN on another electrified fence. Not to be outdone, the boy was curious how this felt and shocked himself on purpose. Yes, these are my brilliant children.
Once they stopped buzzing, we headed back to the car and admitted defeat and stepped into tourist land of the Waitomo Glowworm Caves. Eric has something of a phobia of caves and underground caverns, so it was the shorter 45 min tour we chose. The caves themselves were discovered by Tane Tinorau, a local Maori chief, and Fred Mace, an English surveyor, where they made a raft and floated into the caves and saw the glowing lights. A bioluminescent “worm” which is actually the larval stage of a small fungus-gnat (doesn’t that sound pretty) lives in the caves and lights it up from the inside, like a starry night outside. They don’t allow pictures, so here’s a stock one from the web – it really is magical, though you do feel a bit hustled in and out of the cave in true tourist fashion. While in the boat, floating with the lights around, I started to sing “Kiss the Girl” from “The Little Mermaid,” until I was shushed by unappreciative tourists.