|If this pony was mine, his name would be Fabio.|
Our visit to the Abbey Caves proved to be every bit as wet as I expected, and much more muddy! Reaching the caves entailed traipsing down a long, thick trail of deep, slippery mud. Sam decided the best course was to go barefoot, while I did a bit of light trespassing, jumping the fence to walk through a grassy field of grazing ponies. I'm proud to announce I didn't slip and fall!
Sam did, though. I tried not to laugh, but it was one of those comical banana peel falls.
The areas around the cave entrances are very lush and, when we went, loud with the sound of rushing water. It's amazing to be somewhere so different from the summer we spent in West Texas.
Once we reached the caves, it was clear we wouldn't be able to go in very far. They were flooded and the rocks were slippery. I began kicking myself for leaving my headlamp in Texas, but the truth is, it seemed too dangerous with or without it. I've been wanting to see the larger and more well known Waitomo Caves since watching Planet Earth years ago, and I recently found out they're quite costly. The Abbey Caves are free and I really wanted to see some glow worms! The most we saw were a few teaser stalactites, but I'm sure there are other free caves in New Zealand to explore.
Although we couldn't explore the caves, we enjoyed the walk. The caves are surrounded by dramatic volcanic rocks, eroded into interesting shapes and scattered as though sprinkled from heaven. They stand out nicely against the bright green grass.
Sam decided to hide in the photo below for a "Where's Waldo" shot. Can you find him? Click through to Flickr to view it full size. Strangely enough, in the larger version he looks as if he's been photoshopped in.
There were two of these little fantails chasing each other around us. They have a very funny way of flying while keeping their fantail on display. I couldn't get a very good photo, so I kept walking, and when I was walking across the field away from the trees, one of the birds started circling me, doing its happy flying dance within arm's reach. I didn't know why until I read this:
"Our fantail is one of the friendliest birds in the forest. The reason? When you walk you disturb lots of insects and our fantail loves eating insects. They don’t just follow humans though, they’ve been known to tail silvereyes, parakeets, whiteheads and saddlebacks."
Sam and I left the Blue Heron this morning (the staff there are so lovely!) and drove down to North Auckland to settle in at our new hosts' house. We'll be here for two days, then with another Auckland family for two days, then moving on to the Coromandel Peninsula. More about that later, though, because it's very late and I need to get some sleep!