North Island, New Zealand

IMG_1316The awesome caves with great formations. IMG_1268Redwood Forest of New Zealand.IMG_1284Geothermal area of the NOrth Island.

Stalactites, these are curtain stalactites from the middle of the caves. IMG_1327

We continued our journey around Rotorua and surrounding towns over several days. This area has a lot of geothermal activity and that means a bunch of geysers, smoke and hot mud boiling in the earth.  We visited a place with 5 kilometers of trails of cool sights where we spent the afternoon.  This place is called Wai-o-tapu.   As you walk around you see first hand what all the Earths minerals can do to the ground and water.  I saw water of all different colors, light green, dark green, blue, red, orange, yellow, brown and more. It was weird to see.  The water is extremely Hot, if you went in you would die.  I saw a dead floating duck in the water which proves how deadly the water is.  Sometimes the Earth’s pressure makes these huge holes in the ground and they sink down creating a huge hole. There are boiling mud pits and geyser holes. The smell is so bad at places, HORRIBLE, it smelled like rotten eggs and burning bacon and farts. The smell is due to the sulphuric acid and other minerals in the ground.  There was a lot of smoke too. This is me taking notes and reading the info on all 25 sites I saw.  A lot of elements in the periodic table were mentioned.IMG_1282The following info is taken from the website http://waiotapu.co.nz

Fun Fact: Sculptured out of volcanic activity and thousands of years in the making, Wai-O-Tapu is considered to be New Zealand’s most colourful and diverse geothermal sightseeing attraction. You are introduced to a uniquely different natural landscape – the key to what you see lies below the surface – one of the most extensive geothermal systems in New Zealand. Clearly defined tracks provide the visitor with the opportunity to enjoy the diversity of this area through a series of different walks.

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New Zealand Redwood Forest.

During our drives we took a quick stop at New Zealand redwood forest. bet you didn’t know that New Zealand has redwoods as well as California? WE didn’t.  These Redwoods were not as big as the California Redwood’s because they were planted in 1901 so they are only about 114 years old.  BUT, scientists know these grow faster because of the soil here, so maybe one day these trees will be bigger than the ones in California. They were still neat to look at. ONe day I want to visit the one’s in California.IMG_1264IMG_1268

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ANother day was spent at the Waitomo Caves. We did 3 caves and I am a cave expert now.  In the first cave I saw tons and tons of Stalactites and Stalacmites. All different sizes from huge to small. We took lots of photos. The guide told us that a stalactite as big as my finger took over 10 years to grow.  He also told us that when a stalactite and stalacmite meet up it is called a column ( I already knew this though).

FUN FACT: a stalactite is a tapering structure hanging like an icicle from the roof of a cave, formed of calcium salts deposited by dripping water. A stalagmite is an upward-growing mound of mineral deposits that have precipitated from water dripping onto the floor of a cave

IMG_1312IMG_1313THese are pictures of the Stalactites growing from the ceiling of the cave. At one point they turned off all the lights in the cave and it was so dark.  Couldn’t see my hand in front of my face.  It was natural darkness.  It must have been hard for the early explorers carrying lanters to discover these caves.  The caves are long and some had high ceilings and some low ceilings.  We spent the entire day visiting caves.IMG_1316

IMG_1327These formations were really cool. They are called Curtain Stalactites because they look like a curtain hanging.  The way the water drips down is what causes the formation.

Another cave we saw featured GLOW WORMS.  They are tiny worms that live in certain caves and produce a small blue light.  They are about 2 inches long .This was the only cave we couldn’t take photos in so these are from the internet.

This is the glo worm, notice the small strings hanging down, those are threads that the worm produces to catch food, kind of like a spider web. If a bug is flying around the cave and gets caught it makes a tasty dinner for the glow worm.   

You may notice that the droplets on the threads, that is actually the glow worms mucus. Discusting but true. This is what the Glow worms look like in the cave, taken from internet. There are over 30,000 of them in one cave.

I thought the glow worms looked like a bunch of constalations.

FUN FACT: The Fire Fly also produces light, just like the glow worms, but the glow worms light stays on longer.

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ZORBING ***You go in  a huge plastic ball and roll down a hill. There is water inside the ZORB ball.  I loved bouncing around the ball, when the people rolled you down you were trapped.  Two times Sawyer and I went together in one ball, at one point I was on Sawyers head. Two times I went by myself, we went either on a straight track or a curvey track, I am in this ball rolling down.I laughed the whole way down. This is me in the ball trying to stand up. This was the most fun thing I did in New ZealandIMG_1093IMG_1073

NEW ZEALAND FUN FACTS:

*The movies “Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit” were all filmed here.

*New Zealand was the first country to give women the right to vote in 1893.

*The term “kiwi” is used as a nickname for New Zealanders.

*In New Zealand they drive on the left side of the road and car steering wheels are on the right side of the car.

*There are absolutely NO SNAKES in all of New Zealand and no big land mammals.

I can be reached at rileymeckley@yahoo.com if you have any questions. Thanks