Fancy maggots with glowing faeces
Day 2: 25 May 2014
Status: Still excited and adventurous – Indiana Jones adventurous.
Route: Coromandel to Waitomo
Late night, early morning – always an annoyance. Interesting start though – we waited till the dishes were washed and dried before the bus would leave. Them rules. *since then I don’t think anyone had left their dishes uncleaned in the hostel kitchen*
The bus dropped us off at Paeroa, a small little, old school township. Paeroa is also known as New Zealand’s antique town, which is quite self-explanatory. As you strolled along the short distanced main streets, you’d come across a lot of op shops and secondhand items, as well as those darling vintages and antiques that screamed enthralling stories.
First interesting (make-believe-Indiana Jones-adventure) stop of the day: Karangahake Gorge that links to a massive gold mine. You-can’t-see-the-bottom-massive.
Don’t even asked me about the correct (Maori) pronunciation – I’ve come to an agreement with myself that I would fail in pronouncing all the Maori names correctly. Do you know that ‘wh’ is pronounced as ‘f’ ? Eg ‘whaka’ is pronounced as ‘faka’ , or something like that.
Back on track… The Karangahake Gorge Historical Walkway follows the old Paeroa to Waihi railway line, in which at some point adventurous visitors would have the opportunity to remaining relics.
During our 45 minutes Window Walkway – where I took heaps photos of the stunning views into the Waitewheta River from the windows and train through the mining tunnels and rail tracks – I went on a little detour with another 2 girls.
To not get lost or wander further down (which would take hours apparently), the golden rule is to always keep the river on your right. We would have gone through couple of swing bridges (another rule – maximum of 10 people each crossing), stairs and tunnels and eventually got to a point with two splitting route. Technically we were still keeping the river to our right, but what the missy had forgotten was that the loop is an “8” shaped. We walked further for about 15 minutes then made the executive decision to turn back, wait for some walking beings from the bus group.
That’s the little adventure of the day. Getting lost once in awhile is an adventure, no?
Another little township worth mentioning was the Mystery Creek. Why? Because it is a wealthy area where privileged people commute to work in Hamilton city (aka student city). As small as it seemed, it holds various events such as tractor racing (!), wood chopping, concerts and etc.
Had a quick lunch and off we went on our way again.
As we drove into Waitomo, we were advised to “not bat an eyelid because you’ll miss the town”. It was that small, and I’m not even exaggerating.
Undoubtedly, I was with my two new yet sweet as travel/bus/room mates – Caitlin and Yazmin. Neat little lodge of itself; and the three Aussie chics got a 4 bedder.
I’d #win but read further and you’ll know why it wasn’t really a win, especially when I’m beside the empty bed.
There is also a historical hotel at the back of our accommodation. Historical equals stories equals yet another adventure.
Second adventure of the day: The Black Labyrinth Tour with Black Water Rafting Co., through the Ruakuri Cave (Maori meaning: two dogs or Den of Dogs).
The cost includes wetsuit that provides buoyancy, safety helmet, disgustingly wet boot socks and boots. Expectedly, we walked like penguins from Happy Feet. Wobbling and falling and tumbling, good fun.
I climbed, black water tubed, floated down an underground river, leaped, and did water fall jumps. WATER FALL JUMPS!! from a girl who can’t swim Now that’s a win, even though the water falls are only metres high.
Not to mention, glow worms. The tunnels have a foul smell of, what seemingly to be the distinctive smell of faeces; and the water, icy cold. And you have to paddle with bare hands to keep drifting in line. Halfway through the 3-hour tour, my fingers were numbed and stiff, so weak they threaten to snap with each touch on the cave walls.
No, you can’t have gloves because that’s ridiculous.
And my feet were swimming in their own boot sized pool.
We quietly floated in line, and surprisingly the butt in tube was fairly comfortable. A little tilting up and you’ll see artificial stars – made from/formed by glow worms.
To the hopeless romantics out there, this could be a different kind of romantic star gazing 😉
Hot shower. Hot shower. Hot shower. Hot shower. Hot shower.
I was mentally chanting in my head on the way home to keep myself warm. Mind over matters, right?
Yaz was already back admiring her photos from her tour in the caves, while waiting for Caitlin and I. It wasn’t until 10 to 8:30pm that we were ready, however cafes, restaurants, and kitchens are closed.
Even the supposedly famous local Curly’s Bar is empty. Reason being, Sunday — cold Sunday evening.
We did however, met the lovely bartender/waitress, Rose. She brought us Nachos and we started talking. About her childhood, about the locals, about the caves, wines and ciders, and of course the historical Waitomo Hotel.
Rumours have it that the hotel is haunted with a local Maori princess, who would rearrange guests’ things especially laundry. Paranormal New Zealand says more. Rose frequented the hotel as her mother worked there – she didn’t feel any ‘vibe’.
Local goss: Ruakuri Caves was also said to be haunted by the spirit of the Maori chief who was buried somewhere in the caves.
Guess what. Rose also frequented the caves and was occasionally the guide for tour groups. Her dad was a local sheriff hence the caves were her playground.
After a couple of drinks, we decided that it was time for adventure. A spooky one. It was pitch black, almost still apart from the hustling wind. With the dim light on our phones, we walked uphill singing cheery songs as loudly as possible.
And occasionally some jokes, like when Yaz dropped her phone and we thought it was a sign to back off. Or when Caitlin kept saying “dead people” and her shoelaces kept coming off – we joked that it was the playful Maori princess spirit.
High hopes didn’t last long enough. The hotel was shut, and although there were a few rooms lighted, we have no way of getting in. The haunted hotel has became modern enough and you’ll need a swipe key to access.
We went back, slightly disappointed though the photos and story with ‘twisted ending’ would last us for a night or two.
And now you know why the empty bed beside me wasn’t a really appealing idea anymore. I threw my backpacks on the bed and spread it out, with my back facing it the whole night.
My back and neck hurt so bad the next day.