Waipu Caves and Hiking in the Rain

I heard screaming from inside the cave. A chilling sound, especially frightening when pitch black.

Luckily, the screaming wasn’t a call to action, just a run of the mill group of Jr. High students on a class field trip.

They were obviously excited about the caves, evidenced by the dozens of beams of light criss-crossing, obviously a generation too late to heed the Ghostbuster’s warning. Also the afformentioned screaming.

Waipu caves are a free set of glowworm caves near the town of Waipu. A French photographer said the caves aren’t as bright as the famous ones in Waitomo, but they have the benefit of being quiet and dark…usually.

The cave entrance starts out wide enough, and a slippery path leads back to the first glowworm cave. In the dark, the glowworms look like constellations of blue. Words could not do the experience justice.

The cave narrows, to the point where you have to duck down and traverse some knee high water and leads to a second cavern full of glowworms.

The second cavern has a tunnel which circles back around and ends up where it started. If you try to continue on through the water, it becomes deeper and there aren’t glowworms reaching up to chest-high water. I didn’t venture further.

After the caves, I was inclined to do a short hike near the cave’s entrance. The hike led you through a forest, which put you in a person’s cow pasture.

I was getting rained on throughout the hike. I also was the only person on the trail either direction. The two could be related.

After the hike, I made my way to the next campground, about an hour and a half drive away.

There were very few cars on the road, as very few people live in New Zealand. There also were quite a few single car width bridges, with handy signs indicating which direction had the right of way.

I was expecting the highway up north (or 1) to be a highway, but it has been a one lane road with passing lanes every few kilometers.

I arrived at Otamure Bay, my campsite for the evening. The nearest town is Whananaki, which is a few kms to the South.

The campsite is situated next to a beautiful beach. It looks pretty similar to the last campsite. I have been told the North island areas all look pretty similar. I guess we will find out over the next few months.

Out into New Zealand

Early this morning, I scared an Italian man within an inch of his life. I wasn’t trying to scare him. In fact, I really wanted to show him I was a good driver.

I hit the windshield wiper instead of the blinker once. I almost ran a red light once. I misjudged how much van was on my left and almost hit something four times.

To be fair, the center of Auckland (home to a third of New Zealand’s inhabitants) would not be my first choice for learning to drive.

The Italian man and I were on the way to a campervan rental shop. He and his girlfriend had just sold me their van, Opheila, and now they were going to rent a van for their last week in New Zealand.

I left the couple with all their belongings on the side of the road a block from the rental place.

Slowly, I took Opheila up the coast to a campground near Waipu called Uretiti.

The campground is an official Department of Conservation campground (one of more that two hundred), and is situated on a beach. The campground itself was not too busy today, and I had the beach to myself.

I went on a coastal walk for an hour and saw some cool plants and views, but most of the time was spent figuring out what exactly came with the van.

I am glad to be out in the New Zealand countryside, and excited to make my way around the North island this spring.

Does Anyone Need a Hand? #1 finale

I left the boat today.  It was a sad goodbye.  The week was a fun departure from my original plan, and I am glad I got to meet some really interesting people.

I will definitely be doing side projects like this in the future to see if I can help out people in the places I travel.

I felt like they took care of me more than I helped them on the boat, but I am grateful for the chance.

Last night, I also got to see a pretty spectacular sunset, so here are some pictures of that.

I spent this morning calling places, and I finally have my van located.  I pick it up tomorrow and will say goodbye to Auckland.

Pictures and more stories to come.

Does Anyone Need a Hand? #1 pt 3

After having worked so hard the day before, today was a relaxing day to recharge. We woke up early and went on a speedboat ride to Garden Cove where I received my first ever SCUBA diving lesson. I took to the basics quickly, but I had to call off the practice dive once we made it down to about 4 meters. I have been dealing with some sinus issues since I arrived in New Zealand, and my head was starting to hurt, even after spending time getting used to the pressures.

The speedboat ride on the way back had super choppy waters. We were ramping off each wave, and it was a workout holding on to the side to stay in the boat. This, combined with blasting music like “Eye of the Tiger” made for a pretty epic ride.

When we got back to the big boat, we had to move it to another anchor point. While the captain moved the boat, I focused on getting some more painting done. The trip took an hour, and the boat wasn’t rocking so much while moving that I couldn’t paint.

We spent the night deep-frying anything we could get our hands on, including onions, cauliflower, cheese, chocolate, berries, and pickles. We also made up some churros.

Day four started out as a work day. We got a lot of painting done, including finishing putting the primer on the stairs. Painting the stairs hurt my back, as we had to get under the stairs as well. The upper ones weren’t too bad, but you had to get in some weird body positions to reach the underside of the lower stairs.

Afterwards, we took a trip to the captain’s parents house to eat lunch. Turns out he plays the piano as well, so we spent some time going back and forth playing for everyone. The stepfather was saying a lot of strange things that I didn’t really understand, but I smiled and nodded.

We borrowed the parents’ car to go run some errands. We needed food, petrol for the speedboat, and a few other boat supplies. After we left the boat store, the car’s engine wouldn’t turn over. Turns out petrol doesn’t work too well in a diesel engine. Luckily, we were able to dilute the petrol with diesel we got from three trips to the gas station with our gas cans.

The parents insisted on giving us dinner as well. We all wanted to be back on the boat and go to bed early, but that was not to be the case.

We got back to the boat super late. The ride back in the dark was creepy. The ocean was still and foreboding, and the city lights only created a deeper sense of loneliness out on the ocean.

We woke up early day 5 intending to go for a hike, but the weather had other plans. We ended up spending the day getting work done on our computers.

We also got quite a bit of cleaning done on the shore. I worked on cleaning the aft deck and cleaning the SCUBA gear. Later on in the day we took a trip into town to get some Burger Fuel. We wrapped up the day early and watched movies.

Does Anyone Need a Hand? #1 cont.

Today was the first day of real work. I spent much of the day with a “needle” gun. It is a power tool that has about twenty metal rods coming out the end. These rods are propelled at a high speed, causing rust to break off from metal. Rust was the theme of the day. Breaking it off, sweeping it up, putting a layer of paint on to prevent it.

The boat itself is an old Japanese fishing boat.


We also moved a big pile of scrap metal, a refrigerator, and rearranged much of the chaos. We removed much of the old signage and warnings.

The hours of hard labor in the morning made the afternoon seem that much better. We climbed on top of the crane and made it to the edge in order to jump off. We also took the powerboat into town to get ice cream. After trying about ten different flavor each, we made our way back to work.

The second half of the day was spent removing more rust, as well as putting on a layer of rust prevention. This goes on even before the primer, and was a lime-green, viscous liquid.


There is so much work left to be done on the boat, it is a little overwhelming. We spend eight hours of good, hard labor, and it didn’t feel like we even made a dent in what was left to do.


The boat is a beautiful vessel, and I have no doubt the people aboard it will do great things for the world.