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Saturday, 30 July 2016

Two glow worm grottos, one honeymoon, many moons ago

The Sepia Saturday prompt #341 shows a boatload of tourists gliding through an underground cavern in the Speedwell Caves in Derbyshire. This image immediately brought back memories of our honeymoon. In January 1974 we were 21 year old students with not a lot of savings between us but had somehow managed to afford a 2 week trip to New Zealand, where we had booked a four day bus tour of the North Island and a seven day tour of the South Island, separated by a few days in between in the Southern city of Christchurch, where we stayed at my grandfather's home while he was away in Australia. On both tours visits to glow worm grottos were on the itinerary.

In the North Island our visit to the Waitomo Caves near Auckland included an underground boat trip to the grotto. Here is a transcription of an article published in the Evening Star on 5 April 1890, not long after the caves were opened to the public.

Article from the Evening star, 5 April 1890, snipped from Paperspast web site.

I don't have any of my own photographs, probably because flash photography was not permitted because it might disturb the glow worms, and also because in any event, whatever basic instamatic camera I might have owned in those days would not have produced any photographs worth having. My honeymoon scrapbook doesn't even contain a brochure from Waitomo, so I refer you instead to the Waitomo Caves web site, where you can read all about their wonders and see photographs that look very similar to the prompt, showing people in a small boat admiring the glittering ceiling of a cave lit by glow worms, as we did. A photograph of a young couple who could perhaps be on their honeymoon is also included. Alternatively they could be just posed models.

The second glow worm grotto we visited was at Te Anau and was part of our South Island tour, accessed via a boat trip across the lake from Manapouri and en route to Queenstown. These caves are younger and are less extensive than those in the North Island and their existence was only discovered in 1948.  As the brochure saved in my honeymoon scrapbook says, these are what are called "living caves".

                                                      Location of Te Anau and its caves

Here are two colour photographs of the surrounding lake and mountains and of the underground area from another brochure in my scapbook, but unfortunately there are none of the cave's glow worm inhabitants.

         You can also watch a video of the trip across the lake to Te Anau. Not surprisingly the display at the entry to the cave looks a lot more impressive than when we were there, but otherwise this is the same trip that we took back in 1974.

A pair of happy honeymooners sunlit in a forest, somewhere not too far from Te Anau. 

We've been back to New Zealand numerous times in the 42 years since but haven't revisited either Waitomo or Te Anau. Maybe we will some day, but I sometimes feel that certain experiences are not as good the second time around, and perhaps it's better to keep the good memories intact. 

For more blogs prompted by Sepia Saturday #341, click here.

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