Caution – Julie wrote this post.
Sorry for the delay in posts, we have had a hard time finding both time and free wifi. Hope you enjoy and feel free to leave some fun comments!
After approximately 30 hours of travel, we have reached our destination. From the time we touched down in Auckland, NZ, we have been very productive! Matt and Lyle landed first and used their time wisely while waiting for the rest of the bunch to land. They ventured to the Skywalk on the Sky Tower and had a great view of the city from the highest tower in the southern hemisphere.
To the pleasant surprise of Monica, Justin, Katie, and Julie, Matt was waiting for them to arrive at the airport. Matt then escorted them out to the Kia Carnival they had rented which rivaled the “Mystery Machine” in awesomeness. From Auckland, we drove two hours south to Hamilton. In Hamilton, we found that NZ was quite the place to stay. Right outside the front door of our hotel sat a trampoline. You can only imagine how 6 people in their 20’s acted when they found a trampoline at their disposal after 30 hours of sitting on an airplane…
After a great night of sleep, we awoke to a day at The Shire and caving. First off was the shire. Many of the group are die hard The Lord of the Rings fans, therefore, the excitement was riding high. Hobbiton is located out in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by sheep and fields. The location of this movie was found by an aerial search. There were three things the director, Peter Jackson, was looking for when he was searching for the site of the movie. He needed land that had a lake, a big tree on its own near the water, and a big hill present behind it all. He found that on a 12 acre portion of the Alexander Farm. Forty-four hobbit holes were then built into the hills and the set came alive. We were able to make our way through Hobbiton and into some of the famous hobbit holes, including Bilbo Baggins’ home, Bag End. Unfortunately, Bilbo was not home. We suspect he was out hunting for more treasure or going on another adventure.
After Hobbiton, we hurried our way to Waitomo caves. Here we were able to explore the best cave of the thousands found in NZ. Also present inside this cave were “glow worms.” These glow worms were actually glowing maggots, but that wouldn’t sell many tickets I suppose. They reside on the ceiling of the caves and the butts of these creatures glow making it look like a sea of stars in the caves. These maggots live in their cacoons for 9 months. While they are in there, they let down a string that works like a spider’s web, however, besides catching the prey it also acts as a paralytic. If a bug ventures onto their strand they are paralyzed and become baby maggot food. The few lucky ones that break through their cocoons first, eat their brothers and sisters and go to work making more little maggots for four days. After those four days, they fly to the “stars,” get stuck in the strands, and are eaten. It’s a vicious circle…
Besides seeing the cool glow worms, we got the opportunity to wiggle through nooks and crannies. At one point, we were given the choice of making our way though “tight” or “tighter.” All of us made it through, but not without a few heart stopping moments of thinking we were stuck for good in a pitch black cave. Thankfully, we all succeeded.