alright people of the innerweb... having just one of the flax baskets left i was in serious shape to finish off this museum quest for ms. rhonwyn.
not that trouble wasn't now, again, lurking potentially everywhere... whiro, maori god of darkness and suffering, had managed to catch up with me on the north island in the form of his insect minions. though i'd managed to deal with the lot of mosquitoes and sand flies he'd sent at me (though i STILL itch everywhere!!!), what are the odds i killed every mozzie and sandfly in new zealand?
so i pushed on. i was running out of stops on the list ms. rhonwyn had given me. i had a plan to make myself harder to follow. i only had one more stop before my trail went erratic again...
that stop was here in waitomo. famous for its glow worm cave, but to be honest its just the north island's version of the te anau cave. as i wasn't allowed take pictures in the cave, but if you check out my post from earlier in the quest about the south island cave their pretty much the same thing. the waitomo caves a little bit bigger, but the te anau ones are more hardcore and movie seeming!
sadly the last basket didn't fancy the cave, and so nothing happened. frankly i'm not surprised. i just had my hopes up. the way the other two ketes vanished so quickly had me hoping maybe it was a trend...
my second stop in waitomo was the museum of caves. it was the second museum in new zealand i'd encountered with an admission, again a surprise, but something i'm just fine paying (and frankly musuem's can use the money!). just if you pop in you'll need $5. which if you ask me is a bargain.
outside there was plenty of neat stuff. a small miniature waka (maori war canoe).
some of the funky limestone from which water erosion carves out the caves this area is famous for.
inside guests are greeted by a GIANT weta replica. i haven't really seen any wetas in new zealand yet. which has me sad. their apparently really common. even cooler they hail from before my time in the cretaceous... at some point i'm planning on doing a Palaeo FACT! about them, but not at moment.
right away you'll forget the price of admission, or at worst realize it was very worthwhile. about 5 steps past the front desk is (i think the real specimen, but it could be a cast of) new zealand's largest ammonite!
you're than shown a "road" map of some of the major cave systems of the area.
this display also did an excellent job explaining how water slowly seeping through the 30 million year old limestone slowly eroded out the tunnel system.in addition to the mini cave recreation the next display was a real life restoration. granted it was only a small patch of wall. the real caves go on FOREVER, this one is honestly a let down at only 2 metres long...
than a large number of the exhibits were on my favourite thing ever... fossils!
this particular display case was a little varied having both fossil ferns and the "pens" of squid like belemnites (though i didn't know squid could write!).
there were some more (smaller) ammonites beside the belemnites.
most of the fossil remains were much more recent that the mesozoic. including this primitive ratite... or for you less sciency people out there flightless bird, related to new zealand's better known kiwi and moa.
there's also a sweet tuatara skeleton!
some prehistoric kiwi skulls. these are the first fossil kiwis i'd seen in new zealand. turns out the kiwi is a REALLY old part of new zealand...
a fossil pukeko (which i'll post my pictures of the living bird soon... forgot to throw up the ones i took in rotorua!).
with of course the big finale of the moas that are often found in the caves... caves a routinely a great place to find more geologically recent fossils. this is because they are cut off from a lot of the key decomposing elements of the surface (contrary to popular images almost all big caves are underground and not at surface level). meaning that if any animals are unfortunate enough to fall into a cave their bones after survive (to an extent anyway). the water that runs throughout the waitomo region might also help permineralize the bones (i'm not sure as there was no sign).
though for the small size of this museum there were TONS of moas, it still didn't quite match our crazy giant moa gallery at the otago museum. they did have a really nice mount compared to ours.
the last major exhibit content was on modern life of the caves. including a tank full of eels. these guys apparent love it down there, as normally their nocturnal on the surface. in the permanent darkness of the caves they can be active and eat all the time!
of course this museum wouldn't be complete without a major display on glowworms. i've already covered them in te anau, but if you hit waitomo first on your trip to new zealand this will get you up to speed just as well.
next the most beautiful detour ever...