Day 9, Queenstown NZ — December 10, 2003

We went four-wheel driving in Skippers Canyon this morning. Riding in a decked-out Land Cruiser we traveled road and path and river for four hours. We passed through HellÂ’s Gate, witnessed the River Anduin and the location used for the Pillars of the Kings. The pillars were digitally added by Weta (pronounced Whey-tah by the locals) after filming.
That afternoon we drove to Te Anau. Doing our part to bolster the New Zealand economy, we bought our tickets to the Te Anau Glowworm Caves. We boarded a cruise boat and took the 35-minute trip across Lake Te Anau. After a short video introduction we followed our guide through the cave entrance, at times bent nearly in half to clear the ceiling, and to the boat. Guide wires were set in the ceiling of the cave, which allowed the guide to navigate the boat through the tour. Once everyone was in the boat the lights were cut – the rest of the trip being made in total darkness.
Glowworms are fascinating creatures that resemble green LEDs glowing in the dark. The hungrier they are the brighter their glow. It was breathtaking to see these tiny creatures in their natural habitat, almost totally undisturbed. One thing I have noticed here is a strong trend towards conservationism.
The water in the part of the cave we were in was very shallow, no more than a foot or two deep. It was very clear, too, much like all of the lakes and streams here. Clear, cold and clean enough to drink. I canÂ’t imagine drinking from any body of water back home, except for the occasional natural spring. It makes me sad to think about things like the Chicago River, that only looks healthy when they dye it green for St. PatrickÂ’sÂ’ Day

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