Glowing Maggots

This is one of the caves of Moria

The PC and more marketable term for the glowing larvae of maggots is glowworms. And the marketing worked… we joined the annual lot of 500,000 people who go to Waitomo Village to see the glowing maggots. It was well worth the time spent. We chose to go with the Spellbound tour company because it came very highly rated and by the end we understood why.We got on the tour about 2pm with our caving fanatic and local guide, Norm, and 11 other glowworm seeking individuals, and headed out for the caves.

This is our attempt to photograph glowworms in a moving raft



In the first cave we spent well over a half-hour floating under the glow of the millions of “worms”. The best way to describe this is a cross between the Disneyland rides Pirates of the Caribbean and Space Mountain, minus the singing pirates and the roller coaster. Not sure what picture that leaves you with, but that’s what came to mind as was sat floating in the dark, damp cave, with only starry-like lights above. It was really cool and a unique feature of this tour was that you were in complete darkness for over 30 minutes, giving your eyes time to truly adjust. We got in a raft and were slowly moved through about 300 meters of cave, the entire ceiling covered with the worms. There were many caves in the area that boasted glowworms, but this cave in particular had an exceptional number of the worms due to a high concentration of whatever it is they eat.

There is a very popular activity we passed up in Waitomo, choosing the Spellbound tour instead. This activity is black water rafting, which from what we understand is inner tubing through the caves in a wetsuit with a headlamp, sweet white rubber boots, and glowworms overhead. It sounded like fun but was twice the price and didn’t give nearly the same amount of time viewing the glowworms as Spellbound gave. Perhaps when we come back to Waitomo we’ll get a chance to wear those white rubber boots. Or, maybe we can try it at home with some inner tubes on the Willamette at night. Who’s in?

 We got out of the caves and back to the car around 6pm (9pm West Coast time, Election Day). The radio was quickly tuned in to hear the news of a defining moment in United States history–the election of Barack Obama as President. We followed the coverage the best we could the rest of the evening and finished it off with watching a rebroadcasting of “Indecision ’08” with Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart. We have already been asked three times in one day what we think of the results. We would like to tell you what we think right now, but unfortunately this is not a political blog… back to glowing maggots. =)

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7 Responses to Glowing Maggots

  1. Amy Moulton says:

    Cool, guys! Mark and I recently saw footage of the glowworms on Planet Earth. I’m loving your blog and amazing photos! I’m glad your trip is going well.

  2. Hi John and Erin! We LOVE the new adventure you guys are on. Thanks for keeping the world posted through your blog. We love reading it 🙂 So proud of all you are doing. Take care and can’t wait to see you again soon. p.s. — I’m sure our kids would love the gloworms!

  3. Kim says:

    How have NZ’s reacted to Obama’s election? I’m curious. I’m sure it’s not the same hoopla as Kenya, but it’s always interesting being overseas during an election or major event in the US. I’m looking forward to the “political blog”. Not that glow worms aren’t cool. Very cool! I’m going to go watch our Disneyland video to try to get the effect. 🙂

  4. Katie says:

    sorry, but yuck…i don’t know why. it just sounds gross!

  5. Elizabeth says:

    “high concentration of whatever it is they eat. um, don’t maggots eat dead stuff? Just sayin’. 🙂 party on!

  6. Luke Ankeny says:

    Thanks for sharing. Sounds like you two are having an exciting time. There is no way I would get in the Willamette river … well maybe, I’m sure there are some glowing fish in there or something.

    Glowing maggots … fascinating!

  7. Robby says:

    Willamette River…
    Night time…
    inner tube…
    glowing fish?…

    I’m in!

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