After finishing at the caves, we debated what to do with the rest of the afternoon. We headed back to Ruakuri Reserve to do a short walk there that's rated one of the ten best in New Zealand. It wasn't especially interesting during the day, we simply wanted to familiarise ourselves with it for our return later on, which is when it TRULY lives up to that top ten status.
Once we'd done that, there was still an hour or so left before we could check into our accommodation, and we'd exhausted the main possibilities in Waitomo. So we flipped over the map that we'd been given by the tourist information place, and noticed that it included a bunch of waterfalls and beaches and things that were about 30-60 minutes away. We decided on Marokopa Falls.
The drive there got a little bit...ridiculous:
Me: Okay, so the instructions say that after 5 kilometres, there'll be a fork in the road and we go left.
Ness: Cool. [what felt like a million years pass] Well THAT was the longest five kilometres ever. THAT'S WHAT SHE SAID!!!!
[both laugh hysterically]
Me: [a minute later] Wait, that doesn't even make sense. Why is it so funny??
Eventually, we arrived and headed down the path to the falls:
It was very pretty, but it was also blowing mist all over us, so we didn't stay very long. We drove a little further down the road, then declared ourselves bored and headed back to Waitomo to check into our accommodation.
There, our host recommended the restaurant across the road for dinner, so after a wee spot of relaxation (translation: checking all the internet things) we fancied ourselves up and headed over there. Well. We were not disappointed. The food was DELICIOUS - we ended up sharing an entree, then having main course and dessert each. A little more food than we'd been planning on, but totally worth it.
|Pumpkin and cheddar risotto balls|
|Homemade fettuccine with cherry tomatoes and goat feta|
|Chocolate souffle with raspberry coulis and plum ice cream, OMG.|
Back across the road at our B&B, we borrowed some torches and jumped in the car, heading back to Ruakuri Reserve. Why? Because there are glowworms along the banks of the river at night, and it's kind of like walking through Rivendell or something. It. Was. Amazing. I think we probably wandered around for the better part of an hour in the dark - it's kind of incredible how much your eyes adjust. At first, we were the only people there, and we got excited when we spotted a cluster of half a dozen glowworms. But as it got darker, it was like there were constellations all over the place.
|Terrible photographic proof of glowworms|
Eventually, a large group of loud tourists arrived, blinding everyone with their torches. Which was dumb, because the more you relied on your torch, the less you'd see the glowworms... So we abandoned ship and headed back to the car. When we got back up to the main road, something darted out into the headlight beams, and Ness practically had kittens. Once I'd identified it as a hedgehog, she had even more kittens on account of never having seen a hedgehog before. She jumped out of the car, and chased it - giggling the whole time - down the road. I wish to God I'd been able to stop laughing long enough to video it, because it was absolutely priceless.
|Basically, Ness was the kitten. Source.|
We giggled all the way back to the B&B.*
Next up, we hightail it back to Auckland, and I fly to Wellington to meet Kim!
*It's totally okay for us to giggle. Hedgehogs are an introduced species and a pest in New Zealand, despite their adorableness.