17 March 2016 - Whangarei New Zealand (Town Basin Marina)
On 8 March, we took a well needed break from the paint fumes on the boat (I was working in the cockpit for nearly two weeks) and visited “The Abbey Caves” just 4 km from the city centre.
The Abbey Caves are completely undeveloped, unguided and the posted sign ominously says “Enter at your own risk”. There are three caves open to the public, but we only had time to visit one cave, so far.
Most of our trek through the cave was on firm level footing in ankle to thigh deep water, but occasionally we had to scramble up over boulders, stalagmites or duck under stalactites bearing down from the ceiling. In the Organ Cave (the largest of the caves), we were very impressed with the high ceilings and stalactites which looked similar to church organ pipes. It is pitch dark in these caves, and you’re well advised to enter with a good headlight as well as a powerful hand carried light. I carried a strong SCUBA diving night light.
We were treated to a “starry night of glow worms” nearly everywhere in the cave. So, what is a glow worm? Glow worms, that we have only seen so far in New Zealand (never before in other countries caves) are the larva of NZ’s most famous fly. The life cycle of a glow worm is about a year from larva to fly and during this period it casts the luminous glow for which it is named. Looking at a ceiling of glow worms is like gazing at stars on a clear night. It is totally beautiful and surreal - and we’ve never seen anything quite like it. After a Wikipedia search, it seems that caves with glow worms do exist in other countries, but we’ve just never come across them before.
Taking photos inside the caves produced some interesting results. We happened to be with a woman who had a very good camera and was experienced in taking photos in low light situations. She left the shutter on for 20 seconds (and we were very very still) and then whipped around a flashlight for about 5 seconds providing limited light. This produced the best results.
Outside the caves, we found a tree with trumpet flowers blossoming.
On other walkabouts near Whangarei, I’ve also managed to take a number of photos of birds, no of which I can name, but many of which might be unique to NZ.
I’m still painting, but the end is in sight. In a few days time, I’ll start working my way around the perimeter, painting the toe rail. Its long, but not wide - and does require some upside down positioning.
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SV Joana is listed for sale at this site (in case you're wondering why, we're not planning to give up the cruising lifestyle or our home, but most things are for sale and since we've met many cruisers who have listed their boat, we figured we'd do it too).
Countries Visited So Far: (Departed Canada: May 2009)
Antigua: May 2011
Bermuda: June - August 2009
Bonaire: February - April 2014
Bahamas: December 2009 - March 2010, December 2010 - February 2011
Barbados: March 2012
British Virgin Islands: May 2011
Colombia: Oct 2014 -
Cuba: March - May 2010
Curaçao: May 2014 - September 2014
Dominica: May 2011, April 2013
Dominican Republic: March - April 2011
Fiji: September/October 2015
French Polynesia (Marquesas, Tuamotos, Tahiti and the Society Islands): April-July 2015
Galapagos: March 2015
Grenada: June-November 2011
Guadeloupe: March 2013
Martinique: March 2012, March 2013
New Zealand: November 2015
Niue: July/August 2015
Panama: December 2014 (San Blas Islands), (Portobello and Canal) January/February 2015
Puerto Rico: April 2011
St Lucia: May-June 2011, December 2011 - February 2012, December 2012 - February 2013
St Martin /Netherlands Antilles: May 2011
St Vincent and the Grenadines: June 2011, February 2012, December 2012, April-May 2013
Tobago: March-May 2012
Tonga: August 2015
Trinidad: May - December 2012, June - November 2013
USA: August - November 2009, June - November 2010
US Virgin Islands: May 2011
Venezuela: November 2013 - February 2014