The man at the front of the boat points towards what looks like a starlit sky, one in which no known constellations can be discerned. The people sat in the boat follow his finger. They strain their necks, gazing in wonder at the sight above them. Despite the brightly lit visitors below, thousands of bright blue specks barely illuminate the outline of a rock ceiling. Nonetheless, it is a beautiful sight.
This is the sort of image that features prominently in any guide or brochure promoting New Zealand’s famous glow worm-filled caves. It has been successful in tempting visitors to fork out upwards of NZD45 for a tour. Those same photographs are a problem though; their existence doesn’t mean that you can get the same kind of photos with your camera – if the guide permits it in the first place.
However, if one is reasonably fit and prepared to get wet, you can get set some good (if boat-less) photographs of the glow worms at the Abbey Caves in Whangarei, a 2.5-hour drive from Auckland. Unlike Waitomo, there won’t be any crowds to deal with too, and it will probably stay that way for some time. [Read on]