Report on labour weekend visit to Waitomo caves
By Ruth and Winton Cleal
On Friday 30th October we arrived at the Top 10 Holiday Park at Waitomo Caves (31 people altogether). Our members took up all the motel units at the Holiday Park, and late-comers were accommodated at nearby bed-and-breakfast places. New members Sue and Wayne from the Waikato brought their caravan and parked it opposite the units.
We commenced with a happy hour in front of our unit and then moved on to dinner at the Huhu Restaurant where we dined for the next two nights. The food was of a very high standard for the first two nights, but we think the chef may have had the night off on Sunday!!
On Saturday morning we went our different ways using the information provided by Janice and Stephen, but most people took the opportunity to visit the Kiwi House in Otorohanga.
At 2 pm we all assembled outside the office of Spellbound Tours where we were split into three groups and driven about 30 minutes west of Waitomo and then onto farmland for a very special experience. Our group went first to the Spirit Cave – Te Ana o te Atua – where we walked into the cave along a concrete path and were impressed by limestone formations, fossils and spectacular views to the sky through sinkholes or tomo. The cave is well lit and we thought we had seen it all.
However, next on the agenda was tea/coffee and biscuits before embarking on a tour of the glowworm cave. There is no lighting in this one so we wore hard hats with little lights on the front until we reached the grotto. We were guided down a path to a waiting inflatable and then glided downstream underneath an amazing canopy of glowworms, which got brighter the further we went because there was no other lighting.
There is a waterfall at the end of the stream, which got louder and louder until our guide turned the boat around for the return journey. I have never had such an amazing experience and would thoroughly recommend going on the Spellbound tour if you are ever in Waitomo Caves.
Then we drove back to Waitomo and another happy hour and dinner at Huhu Restaurant.
On Sunday at 9.30 am we assembled in our cars and drove west of Waitomo again until we reached Marokopa Falls where we left our cars and walked down a path (10 minutes) to the spectacular waterfalls. We were told that there was originally a viewing platform at the top but this was dismantled by DoC after the Cave Creek disaster. Nowadays it is only for people who are able to walk back up the path.
Then we got back in our cars to continue the drive to Marokopa where we stopped for lunch at the local sports club rooms which had been opened up for us. After lunch, we drove back to the Mangapohue Natural Bridge but found that the path to the bridge was closed off and we had to use another path. We also stopped at an organic café which has opened recently and offers drinks and food, as well as organic meat from the farm.
Early on Monday we said our goodbyes to everyone and went off in our different directions.
Thanks to Janice and Stephen Belcher for arranging such a successful weekend (and checking it all out beforehand).
Ruth and Winton Cleal
PS. Next Labour weekend we could be in Hawkes Bay.