on April 27, 2006
After my black-water rafting trip, I was dropped off in front of the visitor centre in the middle of town. I had a good 3 hours to kill before my bus left for Rotorua, which was just short enough of a time to stop me from doing any more tours through the caves. I decided to take a wander through the visitor centre, and once I got bored of that, I went into the museum.The museum had a very large gift shop, although it was mainly filled with typical NZ souvenirs that I had seen in every other gift shop along my way. After snapping up a few postcards of the glowworms I saw but couldn't take pictures of, I went into the museum. It was free for me, since I was given a voucher with my black-water rafting ticket. Otherwise, I feel like it was about $10 to get in, but most people in Waitomo have the free vouchers since they have gone on some other sort of tour.It wasn't a huge museum. I managed to spend between an hour and an hour and a half ambling around it, but I probably read most of the signs available in the exhibits. There was a corner all about glowworms, where they had a much more detailed version of what they told us while we were in the caves, complete with pictures. Glowworms are not actually worms, but in fact an insect unique to NZ in the larva stage. They live in the roofs of these caves because they need humidity to keep from drying out. To eat, they hang long threads down, like fishing lines, and then begin glowing to attract potential dinners. I thought it was pretty interesting that they eat all the food for their whole life while in the larva stage; the glowworm only lives for about 11 months, and spends 6 to 9 months as a larva. After that, as a pupa and an adult, it survives on the food it ate as a larva--therefore, it only survives a few weeks longer. A very odd creature indeed.There were other interesting exhibits, including some on the first people to explore the caves of Waitomo, and also about the caves themselves and their composition. I can't exactly remember what it was for, but there was a tunnel between two rooms, which required you to lie down and wiggle through. Of course, there is another way between the two rooms, but it was quite amusing to see one mother give into her children's wishes and then attempt to wiggle through it!This museum was definitely not the biggest or most exciting museum I had ever been in, but it had some interesting information that I would not have learned otherwise. I found that it was a good way to while away an hour or so while waiting around, but if you have any extra time, I would definitely recommend a tour instead.
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