Wednesday, 13 April 2011

The Stray Chronicles Part 2- Waitomo and Maketu

So far the trip was a bit a of a let down, the accommodation is Raglan was so far away, and our group had a few couples and a few non-English speakers so it didn't really click like it did on my Northland Trip. But Waitomo was coming up and I was excted as I wanted to do blackwater rafting since I arrived. We were taken to the Waitomo adventures company who do lots of caving and chose the trips we wanted to do. I chose the tubing trip as that included a little back water rafting. It was a 3 hour trip through a cave full of glow worms and it was so much fun. I've been in caves before, big one that ancient humans lived in but this was totally different. We crawled through narrow spaces, over jagged rocks, around pools of water and swam through streams. This was proper caving where you have to watch every step as you go. In the long deep bits we got into large inner tubes and floated down the river on our backs, looking at the roof which was full of glow worms. It was almost like looking at the stars and really was a fun experience. At one point they challenged us to crawl through a 30ft tunnel, which was very narrow, without our headlamps on. The blackwater rafting turned out to be a gentle tube trip down stream but it was still a lot of fun, I'm surprised i didn't break any bones though!!

They told us a little about the glow worms. The insects lay some eggs and the first to hatch eats the rest of them for its first meal. It then climbs up to the roof and stays there for the next 9 months with sticky mucus dangling from it. As glow worms, which are at this stage maggots, can't go to the toilet they burn the wast, making them glow. This attracts little insects that get swept in by the wind, who think the light is the exit, they get stuck in the mucus and get eaten. Then the worm can glow some more, to attract more food. After 3 months they go into a cocoon like a caterpillar and emerge as flying insects. they have no mouths so they can't eat or drink and spend 2-3 days mating and laying eggs before they die. some even fly into the mucus and get eaten, so they are cannibals. So, very nice life cycle there!

We then left to go to Maketu for the night, a Maori settlement where we got to see a cultural show. We were fed in a kitchen next to the Mori, or meeting house then the oldest man was made the chief of our tribe, Stray. We walked in, and were greeted by 4 worriers who started shouting, chanting and making scary faces to try to intimidate us, in case we were there for war. One placed a leaf on the ground for the chief and he had 3 options:
1. ignore the leaf. this was disrespectful and would lead to us being kicked off
2. step on or drop the leaf. this would mean we were here for war and we would be attacked
3. pick up the leaf. this was a sign of friendship and would mean we could be welcomed by the tribe.

We were welcomed by shaking hands and touching noses, so we were breathing in each others spirit and meant that we were all family. After that they preformed a few songs and a haka, or war dance. Then men were then taken and taught the All Blacks haka, and we were taught poi, or spinning a ball on a string and the girls preformed for the boys and the boys for the girls. It was a bit stupid but a good laugh. We headed down to the beach for a bonfire and then all slept in the Mori, or meeting house. Overall a much better day today and I really enjoyed it.

Just arrived in Rotarua today, a geothermal area that smells of sulphur and have 3 days here. So we'll see what happens!

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