We intended to see the other 2 caves at 10 + 11 this morning, but we got up too late. So, taking our time over showers, breakfast etc, we managed to miss the next tour too, thus blowing our hopes for an early start. There were 2 caves, + the longest one was by far the best, designed, as our deadpan lady guide told us, for atmosphere. The other (Aranui, I think) was short + pretty – too pretty for me, like marzipan. Val had suggested hat we lug our bags all the way up to the caves (about 3 kms) in the hope of getting as lift straight out from there to the main road. This we did, tho’ it proved a mistake, it didn’t work out too badly. At the end of the tour, Val rushed over to one of our fellow-tourists, an Australian guy travelling with his son, + asked if he could take us down. This was almost a necessity, as the walk up the hill had almost flattened her. He was very nice, + took us down to the hotel again, but any hope we had of being taken further were messed up by the fact that he was off to the Glow-worm cave. Ah well.
We stationed ourselves on the road, thumbs out, grins fixed, all in vain. For about an hour, when along came our Aussie friends, who were driving right past Tongariro National Park. (Originally, we had thought to go to Rotorua, until we looked on the map, + saw that we would largely have to re-trace our steps.) It was a comfortable ride – almost too comfortable, I was nodding off, but in a very short time we were out + saying goodbye + thank you. The road leading in to the Park looked pretty barren, but a lorry stopped + took us in to the turn-off for Chateau, the virtual admin centre of the Park, + we flagged down a car heading in there virtually as we climbed down out of the lorry. The Chateau itself was a large + ugly hotel, but we found ourselves a spot in the motor-camp, set up tent, + cooked our tea. A bit Spartan – cheese on toast + soup – but perfectly adequate. (And the kitchen there was amazing – just huge.) And so to bed.
Slowly working our way down through New Zealand and its various tourist attractions, which can be an expensive business, despite our best efforts to save money wherever possible. But hitch-hiking at least removes travel costs.
Did they allow photos in the Glow Worm caves back then, they don’t now. Or were you photographing in secret?
No, I’m afraid these two pictures are commercial post-cards. Nowadays, you might get away with surreptitious camera work, what with super-dupoer camera phones.