3 Magical Moments We’ve Experienced in New Zealand
Living in New Zealand has been full of great memories for our family. We have made the most of our 2 years here and have explored, gone on adventures, and traveled all over the country! But there are 3 magical moments we’ve experienced in New Zealand that stand out!
The first thing on our bucket list when we moved here was to see glowworms! We had heard that they are a must to see. There are places you can pay to take you on a tour, but we discovered a place that you could visit all on your own. So, one of our very first adventures in New Zealand was to Waipu Caves.
We each had a headlamp or flashlight, water shoes, and clothes that we didn’t mind getting dirty. We heard about this awesome cave from our New Zealand bible, NZ Frenzy. So many of our amazing adventures came from this book!
Once we entered the cave, we let our eyes adjust and then we carefully maneuvered the crevices and tunnels. Above us was a starry night sky, showered with thousands of little lights. As we explored the cave more, we could get up close and personal with the little glowworms and see where their glow was coming from. It was unreal! It seriously looked like you were just sitting under the stars, but they were all glowworms!! It was simply magical! It was such an awesome start to our time in New Zealand.
Kiwi Bird Sighting
Kiwi birds are a native bird to New Zealand. They are nocturnal and are becoming endangered. So it is pretty tough to spot these elusive birds. But, we’re the Woods and we do hard things. We were going to do everything in our power to try to spy a kiwi bird while living here!
So we planned a long camping trip to Arotea Island, a kiwi preserve and sanctuary. It was a great campsite that we also read about in NZ Frenzy. It was a quiet little spot right along the shore of a secluded beach. We lucked out and camped when the site wasn’t full, so it added to the serenity.
Since kiwis are nocturnal, you must stay up past bedtime to try to spy one! So, during the day we did our research and found some good spots that they could possibly be nesting. We looked for small holes in the ground made from their beaks searching for bugs. We mapped out our plans so that when dusk came, we knew where to look. We all bundled up and brought our flashlights and put a special red film over the light so the kiwi birds wouldn’t detect it. The key was to find a spot and stay put and be patient. We did a lot of waiting. We could hear a lot of rustling in the bush and a lot of kiwis calling to each other. But that first night, we didn’t see anything!
We did the same thing the following night. We could hear more kiwi calls, but no such luck. The kids were getting tired so we tucked them into their sleeping bags and waited until they fell asleep. Then Cody and I went out for some more kiwi hunting. We wanted to see one so badly!! We spent the next hour trying to follow the calls. We were just about to give up for the night, when we heard some rustling in the bush. We stayed super still on the path and then all of the sudden a kiwi bird came out of the bush, waddled right in front of me, and carried on down the path! It was so amazing! We followed the little guy for a while and flagged down some other people so they could experience it too.
There are many people who have lived in New Zealand all their life and have never seen a kiwi bird in the wild. It was such a cool experience! Totally magical!
Dolphins & Orcas
Another bucket list item was to see dolphins and whales in the wild. We are surrounded by beaches so we were bound and determined to find some! Our community has a Facebook page that is dedicated to dolphin and whale sightings. When people see them, they post about it on the Facebook page to let others know about it.
We were lucky enough to have a pod of dolphins come visit in our very own backyard beach! We sat on the sand and watched them off in the distance swim and play with each other. They put on a show for us and jumped out of the water a few times! It was fun to see the community gather in awe of the creatures.
The dolphins were really cool, but seeing orcas in the wild would be amazing! One day as our son Gavin started his weekly piano lesson with his teacher, I got a notification that there were orcas in our beach! Unfortunately, I had to take one for the team and stay behind with Gavin while Cody took the other kids to check it out. And boy were they lucky! They saw a pod of orca traveling together. There were 2 little baby calves and 3 adults just swimming along. By the time Gavin was done with his lesson, they had moved on and we couldn’t find them again!
Since then, we have had other whale sightings but every time we’ve tried to see the, we’re too late! But that was a magical time for Cody and the 3 kids. I’ll have to take their word for it =)
Seeing glowworms, a kiwi bird, dolphins & orcas, have been pretty magical moments for us! Even though we couldn’t capture them on film, they are experiences that we will remember forever!