Monday, 7 January 2008

Natural fairy lights

I love fairy lights – they are so pwetty! I stocked up on half-price fairy lights in The Warehouse in the Boxing Day sales. I guess it's a girl thing. ;-)

Tonight, I got to see hundreds of natural fairy lights at the Te Anau Glowworm Caves. After a lovely evening cruise across Lake Te Anau, we got to enter the first part of the Aurora Cave system. The Glowworm Grotto is 250 metres into the system and the pathway is well constructed with handrails and safety barriers. Be prepared to duck as you enter; the entrance is reasonably low, and there are two other bends before you can walk fully upright. The caves are dimly lit and there are also a few (easy) steps along the way, so be prepared.

I was surprised how noisy it was inside the caves. There are constant rapids rushing past, and lots of mini-water waterfalls which are still carving out the rock formations. We then boarded a Disney-style boat, waiting for us in a dark little outlet and moved along by a pulley system. We were in total darkness at this stage, except for the fairy lighting provided by the tiny glowworms. As we were pulled into the grotto, I couldn’t help being reminded of a certain boat scene from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Definitely not one for claustrophobes, but enjoyable for the rest of us.

The Glowworm Grotto was simply amazing. It was serenely quiet; we could hear the rushing water in the distance, but our silence and stillness around these beautiful creatures seemed entirely appropriate. There were two different shades of pale blue-green light; we learned later that the dimmer lights were being created by newly-hatched glowworms, who might be 2-3 weeks old. How sweet! If you look closely, you can see what resembles miniature fishing lines hanging below each glow worms. The light attracts their prey, which are then caught in the fishing lines, much like a spider’s web.

If your time in Te Anau is limited and you’re wondering which excursions to fit in over others, I’d strongly recommend a trip to the Glowworm Caves. Not to be missed!

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