Day Nineteen: OUR Hobbit Hole, Waitomo Caves, Otorohanga

Yes, that’s right. We stayed in a Hobbit hole for two nights! Not an actual Hobbit Hole in Hobbiton, but one at Woodlyn Park near the Waitomo Caves. The gentleman who created the hotel, which is a series of unique and very fun lodging choices, is “Billy Black”. The other options include an airplane, a train car, and a boat that he calls the Waitanic! We just had to pick the Hobbit Hole though. And it was so fun to stay there! There are a lot of birds, both day and evening, that flit about and land on the railings and in the plants near the door. I even got a close-up song from one of my favorites, a TUI!

OUR hobbit hole

OUR hobbit hole

View from our window.

View from our window.

Hobbit railing visitors

Sunset over the Waitanic.

Sunset over the Waitanic.

Our "neighbors" just up the gravel drive.

Our “neighbors” just up the gravel drive.

Up by the front office.

Up by the front office.

Hobbit fossilized pig

Hobbit fossilized pig itself

Hobbit Hole, Waitanic, Plane

Hobbit Hole, Waitanic, Plane

Hobbit gumboots

The closest town, other than Waitomo Village which is TINY, is Otorohanga. Like many of the small towns that I’ve passed through while in New Zealand, this one has picked a theme / topic / idea to lure people to actually stop instead of just driving through town. A quick run through of their “claim to fame”, which includes a couple of very large kiwis, a lot of kiwiana icons atop street lamps, and some fun misc. items that we saw while wandering around:

Otorohanga Kiwiana 1

Otorohanga Kiwiana 12 kiwi fruit

Otorohanga Kiwiana 11 silver fern

Otorohanga Kiwiana 11 sheep

Otorohanga Kiwiana 10 jandals

Otorohanga Kiwiana 9 pavlova

Otorohanga Kiwiana 8 hokey pokey

Otorohanga Kiwiana 7 maori design

Otorohanga Kiwiana 6 Busy Bee

Otorohanga Kiwiana 5 koru

Otorohanga Kiwiana 4 Kiwi

Otorohanga Kiwiana 3 Swannie

Otorohanga Kiwiana 2

And now for some of the odd bits:

Orotohanga hammock Santa

In a display of NZ cooking through the ages.

In a display of NZ cooking through the ages.

Otorohanga Cop Car sign

Otorohanga Cop Car

Otorohanga Kiwi giant santa

Otorohanga Kiwi giant santa butt

Oh my. Is it me, or is this spelled oddly?

Oh my. Is it me, or is the spelled oddly?

Not sure about this holiday display. Rainbow wig and tinsel garland on a "person" in a feed / agricultural store window.

Not sure about this holiday display. Rainbow wig and tinsel garland on a “person” in a feed / agricultural store window.

Cars? We usually groom dogs and people back home... not cars. Must be Kiwispeak for auto detailing.

Cars? We usually groom dogs and people back home… not cars. Must be Kiwispeak for auto detailing.

And a seasonal item, The Great New Zealand Christmas Pavlova. My friend Lindsay was just asking if I’d had ever had it (yes, but not on this trip) and we came across a display about it. There are many things that New Zealanders and Australians do not agree on. The origin of Pavlova is most certainly near the top of the list. And I’m putting it in writing, in public view: Lindsay volunteered to make a pav for me when I’m back home. So there, Ms. LW, you’ve got to do it now!! 🙂

Otorohanga pavlova 1

Otorohanga Pavlova 2 recipe

Otorohanga pavlova 3

Otorohanga pavlova 4

Otorohanga Pavlova 5 herself photo

We spent the day at three different Waitomo caves. And those of you who know me will understand this: I did NOT go on the blackwater rafting trip through the big cave! Not much as far as photos go, my camera sucks in low-light situations. Be sure to take a look at the Waitomo link I put up at the top of the post. They’ve got information and good photos!

We were in this cute shuttle van to the first cave. The driver was fun and really handsome (a bit young, but still fun to spend an hour in the dark with!)

We were in this cute shuttle van to the first cave. The driver was fun and really handsome (a bit young, but still fun to spend an hour in the dark with!)

Ruakuri entrance, this one is man-made from when they moved the entrance to return a Maori burial site to the local tribe.

Ruakuri entrance, this one is man-made from when they moved the entrance to return a Maori burial site to the local tribe.

Waitomo no touching

Waitomo Aranui cave tour sign

Aranui walkway, start of the short walk up the hill to cave entrance.

Aranui walkway, start of the short walk up the hill to cave entrance.

Aranui cave formation

Aranui cave formation

The Glow Worm Cave is a MUCH larger production, and takes about 50 people at a time through the cave. The upper part of the cave includes formations like the ones we saw on the earlier cave tours (although now quite as impressive) and then you take a short boat ride in pitch darkness to see the glow worms. People, they’re so very awesome. The “worms” are really not worms, they’re maggots. But let’s face it– Maggot Cave tours? A hard sell. So glow worms it is. They live for a few months in this stage, and they’re attached to the cave ceiling or walls where they create a tiny “fishing line” that is sticky. They they produce a bioluminescence to attract insects which become stuck in the stringy line…and then become DINNER! Because we hadn’t done enough walking for one day, we decided to take the drive out to a local waterfall that’s past the turnoff to the caves. WELL worth the drive, and the walk from the start of the track to the waterfall itself is embarrassingly short, all of ten minutes through some lovely bush and we were there!

Marokopa Falls sign

Marokopa Falls, Waitomo

Marokopa Falls, Waitomo

Marokopa Falls railing ~ some serious carving skills!

Marokopa Falls railing ~ some serious carving skills!

And speaking of dinner, we ended up back in Otorohanga after all that walking, at the Thirsty Weta. Very nice meal!!

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