volcano sunrise, glowworms, middle earth, steaming valleys and volcano sunset

new zealand day two!:

we saw a really pretty sunrise from mt. eden in the middle of auckland – mist peeling over the harbor and buildings, volcano tops peeking  out all over.


then we drove towards waitomo and made a quick stop in hamilton to see the temple!


our drives all over new zealand are impossible to capture in photographs or words. seriously so much incredible beauty swept by our rental car! the boy helped me distinguish landscape that looked “middle earth-y.”


in waitomo, we went black water rafting! we took an adventure tour through the glowworm caves with the legendary black water rafting company, and it was such a cool experience.

we entered the caves though a small opening in thick bush and tubed down the stream in the dark black. at times it was quite narrow and we also got to jump off a few waterfalls! occasionally we turned off our headlamps to reveal the thousands of glowworms shining on the cave ceiling. we got very close to the astonishing little creatures and saw their hanging silk. at one point, we all linked up in a line of tubes, turned off our lights, and drifted slowly through a spot where the cave had opened up into a kind of underground cathedral with a canopy of glimmers above. the guide asked me to sing a song, which filled up the space with incredible acoustics and it was totally magical – something i will never forget.

here are some promotional photographs provided by the legendary black water rafting co to give you an idea of our journey through the dark (but bejeweled with glowworms!) caverns:

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and here are some photos of our group, taken by one of our awesome guides:
we rafted with new friends from australia, japan, germany, philippines and france.

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^^ our guide challenged someone to get a “jumping tube” picture – and the boy delivered! ^^

we had a really fantastic experience with the legendary black water rafting company and we would highly, highly recommend it as a must when visiting new zealand! our guides were totally helpful, informative and engaging, the gear and management of logistics were excellent, and the adventure was a ton of fun and so unique and memorable. we even got hot soup and bagels after we got showered off and dried up!

then, it was back to amazing drives through “the shire”! around every corner there was something new to gasp or marvel at.


we drove to taupo and got a glimpse of huka falls, some geothermal activity, and the volcano over the lake before it got dark. the smoking, steaming, colorful earth (nestled right into the lush and thick bush) was crazy cool – we loved the “thermal terrace garden” we happened to find. and it was pretty cool to see the sunset over a volcano just as we saw it rise over auckland’s volcanoes.

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new zealand’s landscapes are so diverse and we were thoroughly blown away by all the natural beauty we saw even in the tiny portion of the country we were able to explore. we already have a list of things to see when we return to this super special place.