Glow Worms and Bed Bugs!

Trip Start Aug 22, 2005
Trip End Feb 06, 2006

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Flag of New Zealand  ,
Tuesday, January 3, 2006

Got up really early and for some reason was very itchy but went straight to Rock, Raft and Rope in Waitomo for their 5 hour adventure. I was standing in the office putting on a wetsuit when the boss asked me to turn around. The look on his face made me laugh but also made me grab a mirror to look at my back. I was absolutely COVERED in itchy red welts. Steve got straight on the phone to the hostel (Hot Rocks) and informed them that one of their guests was almost devoured whole by bedbugs. Turns out NZ's hostels have a massive bedbug problem, and let me tell you that a bedbug attack is not a pretty site!! I looked like a leper. Unfortunately I was kept up for the next few nights by the itchiness (mosquitoes have nothing on these bad boys) so reached Auckland in a state of sleep deprived delirium.

Looking on the brightside though, they don't carry diseases and after checking I knew I wasn't carrying them around in my pack. Also it is largely possible to avoid them by only staying in BBH hostels which have to keep certain standards. You can check for them in the seams of mattresses; with any sign of dark staining in the fold I suggest staying somewhere else or risk being a splotchy mess for the next few days! Some people either hate dorms or find them just bearable (I did find a Dutch couple who loved them) but personally I prefer to do my socialising outside the room!! I have never stayed in dorms before. This is mainly because I traveled to very cheap places in the past and so dorms rooms were either non existent or not worth the saving. I therefore fall into the 'hate them' category! It's the rustling plastic bags at 5am that gets me... and the weird people who wake you up at 3am to "have a chat"!! Yes I did nearly break his nose.

To get back to the caving... The cave itself was ok, very atmospheric and beautifully green outside. The glowworms were unbelievable; the ceiling was just filled with them! The larvae only needs to feed on one insect a month to survive, which doesn't sound like much but I didn't notice any insects in the caves and there must have been a good half a million there. The worms are definitely surviving somehow though. Our guide kept making us jump by producing booming noises with his shoes and about 20 seconds later it looked like hundreds of thousands of yellow/green LEDs had been planted in the ceiling (similar to that strange laser game in the Alton Towers ghost house John!). I guess I wasn't too impressed with the cave itself after the tour guiding I did in Belize. That cave was pristine and just breathtaking so therefore very hard to top. I have found in the last few years that one cave looks like the rest (!!). The only ones that have impressed me recently were the grave caves in Rantepao, Sulawesi.

I picked up the vibe that the guide was just going through the motions. I think it may have just been an off day for him, which was sad but I suppose making a business out of three trips a day takes away from any enthusiasm you once had! We customers did see some scary looking eels which made us very excited though. I thought one was following me... waiting for me to slip... They are quite amazing creatures; how they hunt in the pitch dark.

Went back to my hostel and showed an English couple called Kelly and Jamie my skydiving dvd. I should do pay per view for the laughs I get out of that one, we just look like total morons!! I really enjoyed meeting these two, and it's funny in NZ how you only seem to meet the same 6 nationalities; German, Dutch, Canadian, Swedish, Australian, and the ubiquitous British!

NZ is a very safe place to travel, but at the moment not my bag really. It's too similar to home and too expensive for an extended trip. I figured out that I had spent almost as much in 10 days as I did in 5 weeks in India!! Admittedly I was jumping out of planes etc. I just always imagined NZ as the kind of place I'll come back to with a family, hire a van and drive/camp all over.
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