Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Rotorua and Waitomo Caves, North Island

Our next destination was Rotorua, via the Waitomo Caves in the Waikato region. To reach Rotorua, we decided to kill two birds, and join a tour that would end in Rotorua, rather than make the journey back to Auckland.
"Waitomo Glowworm", Waitomo , North Island, New Zealand.
Photo Image © Discover Waitomo
The word Waitomo comes from the Māori language wai meaning water and tomo meaning a doline or sinkhole; it can thus be translated to be water passing through a hole. The limestone caves were full of stalactites (that hangs from the ceiling or wall of limestone caves) and stalagmites (that rises from the ground or floor of a limestone cave) due to the dripping of mineralized solutions and the deposition of calcium carbonate. If these two formations grow together, meeting in the middle, the result is known as a column. In the caves, we also saw glow-worms (Arachnocampa luminosa), or insect larvae which glow when it needs to attract it’s prey into its threads.

Geyser Flat at WhakarewarewaRotorua, New Zealand. Photo Image © Wikipedia
We reached Rotorua in the evening and took a walk along the shores of Lake Rotorua. Rotorua is well known for its geothermal activity. In the Maori language, it means ‘second lake’, which can also mean crater lake. It’s nickname is Sulphur City, as sulphur is one of the signs of geothermal activity.

"Mud Death Star", Rotorua, North Island, New Zealand.
Photo Image © Daniel Peckham
There are a number of geysers, and hot mud pools located in the city which owe its presence due to the Rotorua caldera. The caldera is one of the largest volcanoes located in the Taupo Volcanic Zone of the North Island.

We visited the Tamaki Maori Village, where they performed the haka – an ancient chant or ‘war dance’ and were entertained by their traditional songs and dances.

Photo Image © Tamaki Maori Village

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