New Zealand – March 17th

Continued from March 15th. (Nothing interesting happened on March 16th.)

One of the best days of my life started at the Otorohanga Kiwi House, a bird sanctuary.  The kiwis are housed in a nocturnal exhibit, and no photography is allowed.. but there *may* have been a time when I was the only one in there, and a few photos *might* have been taken in the small amount of exhibit light available. For a while I just looked at this totally weirdass creature. 

You can purchase prints of these images (and more) here!

Ducks, Scaups, Kea, Kakapo, Kaka, Owls, Pigeons, Parakeets, Rails, Teals, Warblers, Geese and Oystercatchers of varying endangerment status were also photographed.

I also got to see Tuatara, a species that resembles iguanas but is just as closely related to lizards as they are to birds and snakes; a prehistoric relic that has been a favorite of mine since I was a kid.

The Spellbound Glowworm Cave tour started with a bus shuttle across steep, brown grassy hills dotted with farms, underneath which lay the limestone caves.  Here is the cave entrance. 

It may be best to view the following photos in a dark room. Imagine you are on a raft on an underground river in a cave. The only light comes from the bums of fungus gnat maggots (I can see why they call them glowworms) above you and on all sides. The strings you see below are sticky silk that the worms let down- when bugs get stuck on a string, the glowworm eats it and the whole string. 

These photos were taken handheld on a boat in complete darkness with manual focus.

After that cave, we ate cookies before walking through another cave, with some glow worms, awesome cave forms, 200,000 year old Moa bones and Cave Weta – the grasshopper-like carnivorous insect below.

As soon as those tours were over, I got into my van and drove out to Marokopa falls, which took a lot longer to get to than I’d thought, and the sun was setting. I stopped to photograph the beautiful countryside and cows once.

As soon as I got to the Marokopa trailhead, I RAN through the forest to the most wonderful, awe inspiring waterfall I’ve ever seen. It was perfect. Magnificent. It didn’t take me long to take all the pictures I wanted, and for a while I just stood there and admired the beauty of it all.

On my way back at dusk, I stopped at “The natural bridge” which is an archway over a gorge- the only remaining roof of what was once a huge cave. I was again surrounded by glow worms on the sides of the gorge, and the absolute stunning beauty of glow worms on the arch was phenomenal. Oh my glowworms (OMG)! Finally, the moon and the stars were gorgeous in the clear sky. The last photo on the left is a macro shot of a glowworm eating a sticky thread by the light of my flashlight- it’s that brownish horizontal line. 

You can purchase prints of these images (and more) here!

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