>We have left my brother's place just north of Auckland after 4 days
visiting around there. New Zealand is a very civilized country –
people speak English, the weather is pleasant, no volcanoes are
expected to erupt in the next few weeks, and I am told there are no
poisonous critters to be found. So, the most serious excitement of our
time here could come from driving on the wrong side of the road.
We have walked through several parks to see the different vegetation.
One day we drove to the west coast to see interesting geology and a
gannet (bird) colony. Another afternoon we took D's kayak to a local
Yesterday we started a 4-5 day road trip southward on the North
Island. This evening we have arrived at the Waitamo Caves and are in a
large hostel that is a complex of big cabins and 2 motel-like
buildings. It is just like camping – communal kitchen, laundry room,
showers and toilets, all very clean – except that we don't have to set
up a tent and start a fire. We have a double room with no frills and
there is a pizza restaurant in the reception/office building.
When it got dark we took flashlights and went for a walk to see glow
worms. Today we plan to return and explore the caves, perhaps taking a
Last night in the parking lot of the glow worm place we asked the only
people around "would you recognize the Southern Cross if you saw it?"
Well, they could, and even happened to have a map of the sky in their
car. Now we can say with confidence that we have seen it.