This is the story of one day of my winter holiday taken in July 1999. It was a winter holiday because Rob, a very good friend from the other side of the world, had come to visit me, and I thought it would be a good opportunity for me to re-visit places I had not been to for many, many years.
The morning was very cold; there had been a deep frost and my car windows had frozen over; but then the sun came out and cleared them, just as we were ready to leave the cosy "B&B" we had stayed at for the night. We weren't going far today, just a few kilometres down the road to see Waitomo Caves.
Waitomo is an area in the central North Island of New Zealand with many limestone caves carved out by a river, and they are very beautiful. Inside, the stalagtites glow an eerie yellowish colour, shiny with water dripping from them. In places the stalagtites have met the stalacmites and joined, as if kissing, to form a column from top to bottom. Some parts of the caves are very low, and I have to crouch to pass through the narrow opening, but suddenly here is a huge cavernous room that echos the slightest sound, and is filled with the most magnificent water carvings imaginable. Up there is the face and wings of an angel, and right beside me is the head of an elephant. I can almost hear the strains of Bach from the pipes of an illusory organ in the roof of the cavern. My imagination has taken flight and I can see all sorts of weird and wonderful creatures in the shapes that have taken many thousands of years to form.
Now we are descending deeper into the darkest, deepest part of the caves, to the river that runs through at the lowest level. A boat awaits us: no engine, no lights, but an overhead rope for our guide to haul on as he pulls us along the water course. Overhead, myriad glow worms flash their neon lights at us, as we sit in silence, awed at the sight of so many tiny creatures producing this pyrotechnic display just for us. And I am happy, because a moment like this is shared with someone who is a kindred spirit and means so much to me.
My only regret is that we were not allowed to take photographs so I cannot put one on this page for you to see, but the background on this page will give you some small idea. Close your eyes and imagine the darkness, the quiet, and those millions of pinpoints of light. Imagine the grandeur and beauty inside the great cavern. Be still with my friend and me.
If you have enjoyed this story, there is another at the Goldmine link below.