Collected hire car from Avis at Auckland airport. I did go in the wrong direction at first to find it. The car's an automatic which I wasn't used to, the indicators and wiper arms are the opposite way round to the UK. It has a TV screen to help with reversing which is very useful when parking or backing out with camper vans parked next to you! I got a GPS with the hire car (which was set to be in French) but in truth Google Maps worked much much better. And had places the Satnav didn't. I reawakened damage to my hand because I had packed too much in the big case.
I got to the Tree Church in Ohaupo only to find it only open on Sunday. A disappointment I should have read the website properly. Had lunch at Otorohanga Macdonalds where I had been before a decade ago, quiet until a coachload of Chinese girls arrived, could order at a kiosk which is so convenient.
Got to Waitomo Glowworm Caves early, the girl kindly booked me onto earlier trips! The first trip in Waitomo Cave had a pleasant boat ride where the guide relied on ropes to steer the boat around. The glow worms glowed strongly there, could see an ancient night sky on the ceiling or inverted cities at night. No photography there however, the party too was large, sometimes guide was talking but rest of party hadn't caught up.
The Ruakuri Cave tour was much better and photographs were allowed. It wasn't that cold to me though they advised warm clothing. No boat ride but plenty of stalagmites and stalactites, there was an iron pipe protruding down from cave roof at one point where they piped concrete down to make the walkways. We could see black water rafters in their tubes in a crocodile formation in the river at one point. Some low passages, and entry and exit were a spiral path round a deep concrete pit. At the bottom of the pit was a replica Maori ritual washing stone. I dashed to get to Ruakuri as I thought I was on an earlier tour but it turned out to be later. Did get Virginia a Kiwi Xmas decoration as a souvenir, I failed on this trip to get her something more substantial or to send postcards.
Stayed at the Waitomo Caves Guest Lodge B&B in Waitomo. It started raining soon after I arrived there. Unable to park close to site, had to haul heavy case with painful finger up several flights of steps to Chalet 6. The toilet hiccups when it's refilling, miniature mirror in bathroom, grateful for power pack as charging from mains kept bleeping. The hosts are friendly enough, there is a laundry on site. I had supper at the Huhu Cafe opposite the Lodge, including a nice peanut butter parfait.