One of the unforeseen benefits of travel in a vintage car - or at least in OUR vintage car - is the slower pace of speed. Perhaps, also, it is just that everyone around us, in their Japanese import, is whizzing along a few (or twenty) km per hour over the limit, causing them to pass us in droves. By the time we found ourselves on North Island roads headed towards the Waitomo Caves area, we were fully comfortable in the Sunday cruising mode. It allowed a little more time to gaze at the horizon, flora and expansive paddocks. Speaking of which were every bit as gorgeous, calm and colorful as those of the South Island. Countless mention was made to spend more time in the South Island, as it has more to offer and is more beautiful. We are not convinced of this, necessarily. Perhaps there are more specific viewpoints and vast landscapes and mountains, but there is a whole other world of worthwhile landscape on the North Island routes as well.
In Waitomo Caves we had a much needed and incredible stay in a friend's sister's gorgeous home, view pictured above. Time cooking meals in the kitchen, reading while it poured for a day and an afternoon finding our way through the pitch-black of the caves the town is named after with a bunch of other adventurous folks. Picture, if you will, us at 9am, wrangling our way into some cold wetsuits, booties and helmets with headlamps, jumping in a river butt-first to test the chill of the water and clambering down into darkness to be greeted by the sparkling ceiling lit by glowworms. As our lovely guide explained, the glow which inspires such dreamy awe and wonder is really just the last ditch effort of the maggot attached to the cave ceiling, it's bum alight to attract insects for feeding; then they mate and die. Magical, really.
Really, though, it was loads of fun. Next we headed up to Northland for our final work-stay at a permaculture residence in an eco-village in Kaiwaka. Bring on the vegetables and compost!