After a glowworm has eaten, its digestive process leads to the greenish glow in its backside; the same thing happens to Victoria after a bowl of nachos. Seeing them in the Waitamo Caves (glowworms, not nachos) meant we were essentially paying to look at millions of dots of fluorescent poo. The caves were the first sight-seeing activity for Gill, who has kept us active in central north island and has annoyingly joined Pat on her mission to get us out of bed before 8am every morning.
Martin and Kay have helped us out again by giving us the use of their summer house in Taupo, site of the famous Superloo ('it's got a plaque and everything'). Unaware that we would be arriving a few days early, we managed to gatecrash Anneke and Dion's* anniversary weekend at the house. I was all for camping out next to the Superloo, but our Antipodean friends were more than happy to welcome us in.
Between Taupo and Rotorua is Wai-o-Tapu Thermal Wonderland, a scenic reserve covered with craters, boiling mud pools amd steaming geysers. Aside from the lively and colourful views, the first thing that strikes you about the area is the 'rotten egg smell' due to the presence of sulphurous gas. Imagine allowing a tramp to fart in a phone box for a few hours and then locking youself in and you'll get the idea.
In Rotorua - the adrenaline centre of the north island - we bundled onto a chairlift and then 'skyrode' down a hill. They call this 'luging'; speeding down a concrete track on a very lowriding go-cart. It's similar to riding your luggage around the multi-storey car park at Heathrow Airport - obviously only try this if your bag has wheels on it, otherwise people will think that you're simply trying to make love to a suitcase.
Morning in Taupo was celebrated with a barbeque breakfast - a fry up cooked in the garden by Anneke and Dion and served with plenty of Wattie's Ketchup (a Kiwi institution) and strawberry champagne. As you do when you've had a few before nine in the morning, we decided it would be a great idea to go Jetboating around the Huka Falls nearby. The four of us slipped into waterproof gowns and jumped into an over-powered speedboat piloted by comedy Dave. Looking like a group of surgeons on a team building exercise, we had great fun getting tossed about like a sock in a washing machine.
If you think all of that sounds fun, wait for the next blog where we will discuss being trapped in a room with 19 sheep and 75 Koreans, moon craters, the return of alapacas and llamas and the excitement of New Zealand's Kiwi farming industry...plus whatever happens to us on our way down to Wellington.
*Anneke and Dion are Damo's sister and her husband. You may like to get a piece of A4 paper out and start sketching his family tree (a Kauri tree would be appropriate). Failing that; get outside, find a tramp and a phonebox to begin your own geothermal experience.