22 March 2018 Thursday
We were off at 0600 hrs this morning. A little quiet at Innes Common
with some people queuing up for light breakfast….
At day light…crowds started to gather….
and the participants of balloon festivals started their preparation works…
Inflating the balloon
another balloon inflation underway
and sign of lifting…..
And inflating The Special Ones….
video clip on the inflation process.
It took quite awhile for the balloon to be inflated to full size….
A final check before getting the balloon to stands upright…
One by one…. the balloon stood upright.
In no time, we were dwarf among the gigantic balloon.
Suddenly, we realised the area was so crowded….
We went around taking snap of every balloon…
More firing up…
and the lift off…
The balloon that we like most…
Our pictures at Balloon festivals…
and some individual shot…
Accordingly, there will be no take off. After full inflation, participants started to the deflation process. We decided to have simple picnic while the deflation were in progress…
Our sumptuous breakfast…
Enjoying the food…
After breakfast…. the crowd had dispersed… leaving behind the quiet coast of Innes Common.
peaceful, quiet and superb reflection.
We drove off to Waitomo Cave. Arriving around noon time. There were no cave tour till 1400 hrs. We decided to use the time to explore Marakopa Waterfall, which is about 20 mins drive from Waitomo.
Track to Marakopa Fall, it was some uphill walk with thick vegetation on either side.
in less than 15 mins…. we were at Marakopa waterfall lookout.
The flow is very aggressive and spectacular. A video clip on the waterfall.
Our pictures at Marakopa fall
After leaving Marakopa Fall, we made another stop at Piripiri Cave.
So we thought it was a 5 minutes walk…. it really took us much longer.
The terrain was bordered by thick vegetation, rocky path and very steep up and down slope.
At last, we were at the entrance to the cave…
As we headed down into the cave… the visible green vegetation shrink into a patch of white light.
As I get down to the bottom of the cave….it was almost pitch dark
A snapshot at the bottom of the cave….
Looking up… oh dear, my wife is abandoning me !
We make our way back to Waitomo Cave Tour Office, had some quick bite and wait for the start of our tour.
And this is tour that we would be joining.
1400 hrs, our guide drove us through the long stretch of farmlands….
And this looked like an emu farm
and this look like a possible pig farm…
As we drove by infinity stretch of grass land….
Our guide explained there are hundreds of cave in these region, it was believe a lot more remain undiscovered. There are two relatively large cave in the following pictures. I was astonished to learn there are many legal implication on owners of caves.
Approaching our first destination.
zoomed in … and I thought the rocky stuff look familiar.
Explaining the formation of pancake rock. There is a theory of stylobedding but I thought this will remain a mystery for a long time.
Zoom in on the pancake rock.
Our Guide pointed to path that will lead us to the glow worm cave.
Looking down the ridge….there are a lot of pancake rocks everywhere.
Making a turn into the forested area…
A little stream runs in front of us….
Our Guide got us to stop and watch…
Oh Yes… big fat Eel !
A short video clip showing the struggle of eel as it move the rocky shallow water.
The stream flow into the glow worm cave…
Preparation work for entry…
A short walk to the cave entrance…
Entering the cave and look back.
Pitch dark inside…. illuminated by head lamp.
Queuing to board.
Spectacular view of glow worm….It was like milky way with millions of blue stars. Unfortunately, our camera was not able to capture the wonderful sight.
Zoomed in on Glow worm. These are larva or pupa that are bio-luminescent. I learnt that the larva spin threads known as snares and hang the snares from the ceiling of the cave.
Insect get attracted to the bio-luminescent and will get be trapped by the snares when they flew near, much similar to spider. We managed to capture a video of insect struggling at the end of one snares.
We had some wonderful time admiring the glow worm. It took us quite sometimes before our eyes get used to bright daylight again.
A short walk from the cave exit, we had a short break on a wide stretch of flat ground. Our guide preparing some hot chocolate….
Gathering around for some hot drinks.
Refreshed after good hot chocolate break…
Beginning of Cave II tour….
A long walk between hilly terrains
Entrance to Cave II
Looking back at the cave entrance…the pancake rock looked cracky
Looking around…. there are really a lot more pancake rock…
Zoomed in on the pancake rock. I think the layering does not looked that obvious. Probably that is how scientist deduce weak layer was corroded.
So we thought the cave is very spacious…
There are sections where it get narrow…
Entering chamber of unique rock mass….
There are wide varieties of rock formation inside the cave….the standard stalactite, stalagmite and column.
And some muddy base with no stalagmite suggesting the cave had occasional flooding.
And a statue ?
A beautiful piece sparkle with wet minerals…
Zoomed in on the sparkling giant.
Our guide explaining its formation.
Shaft are holes in ceiling of the cave….. some are small and were filled by muds
A wide shaft brightened an entire section of the cave.
The typical shaft shows flat surface of falling earth…
Without cave illuminations, it looks like saviour lights from the shaft opening…
As we strolled along the cave…. our guide said many animals enter the cave and were not be able to find their way out…. and it is common to find some of their remaining in caves of this size.
And these are residents of the caves…
while filming …. I notice floating shadows on my camera screen…
I decided to take a video clip of the moving vapour
More dancing cave vapour… something only visible through my handphone camera and invisible to naked eyes.
It was almost an hour and we were at the other end of the cave…
A last snapshot before we boarding for the ride back to Waitomo Office.
On the ride back to Waitomo Office…. it was cloudy sky on one side….
And bright sunlight on the other side of the road…
and suddenly, we noticed superb colors afar….
And our rainbow ride….
Arriving at Waitomo Cave Tour Office….
Our pictures with rainbow background ….
I have special liking for rainbow… it is colourful and I always associated it with good luck.
At the Waitomo Cave Tour Office, we asked if they had taken photographs of us while we were in the glow worm cave…. to our disappointment, they gave us some commercial pictures… Nevertheless, there are the real images we had captured in our memory.
Heading back to Hamilton….
It was dark when we arrived at Hamilton. We decided to have dinner at Gothenburg, a tapas restaurant.
Superb setting and crowded.
Fresh and good stuff…
and we fell in love with the scallops and juicy beef…
Enjoying till the last bite…
End of Day 13 :
It was our first close encounter with hot air balloon… and with so many colorful and wonderful giants. At Waitomo, seen the aggressive Marakopa fall and my first self exploration of cave – Piripiri Cave. The Glow worm cave is nothing less than superb – it is a wonder no one should miss on planet Earth. This was followed by very informative cave tour, a lucky rainbow ride back to Waitomo. Dinner was perfect too….
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