By Usman Tariq, Sharjah
New Zealand, for centuries been the most remote land of the world and is also one of the last lands to be settled by humans. Because of its long isolation, New Zealand developed a distinctive biodiversity of animal, plant, and fungal life. Its varied topography and its serrated mountain peaks, such as the Southern Alps, owe much to the tectonic uplift of land and volcanic eruptions. Today, New Zealand has become a favourite country for many immigrants who dream for a better life. New Zealand is a highly developed country with nearly no corruption. The Waitomo glowworm caves are the creation of nature’s pyrotechnics. The hidden nature’s treasure was first explored in 1887 by Maori Chief Tane Tinorau accompanied by an English surveyor Fred Mace. Maori people knew of the Caves existence, but the subterranean caverns had never been extensively explored until the two explorers went to investigate. Both built a raft of flax stems and used candles as their only lighting, hovered into the cave where the stream goes underground. When they entered the caves, their first discovery was the enchanting glowworm grotto with its legion of tiny bright lights dotting beautifying the cave ceiling. As they adjusted to the darkness, they saw a legion of lights from the glowworms on the ceiling amazingly reflecting off the water creating great scenes. The waterway was littered by debris and logs, they poled themselves toward the embankment and explore the lower levels of the cave. Here they found themselves surrounded by the glorious cave decorations.
On one independent trip Chief Tane discovered the upper level of the cave and an easier access. Only after many subsequent visits did they discover an entry point on land. This is the same entry point used today by thousands of visitors annually. By 1889 chief Tane had opened the cave to tourists. In 1906 the administration of the cave was taken over by the government. In 1989, almost 100 years under the government administration the land and the cave was returned to the descendants of the original owners. Many staff employed at the caves today are direct descendants of Chief Tane and his wife. The Waitomo caves was formed over 30 million years ago. There are two levels to the Waitomo Glowworm Caves which are 16 meters apart. The upper level is dry and includes the entrance to the cave, and formations known as the Catacombs, the Pipe Organ and the Banquet Chamber. The lower level consists of stream passages and the Cathedral. The Cathedral is at 18 meters in height is also the largest cavern. It is world famous for its wonderful acoustics, which are due to the enclosed shape and rough surface. Many famous singers have performed here and have been delighted with the purity of the sound. The Tomo is one of the wonders of Waitomo, it is a 16 meters vertical limestone shaft which marks the course of an ancient waterfall which today only flows during heavy rains. Around 300 known limestone caves have been created because of geological and volcanic activities in the Waitomo region over the last 30 million years. The limestone formations in the Waitomo Glowworm Caves were formed when the region was still under the ocean about 30 million years ago. These cave decorations took more or less millions of years to form given that the average stalactite grows one cubic centimeter every 100 years. The caves are monitored by a very professional and a special staff it protects many hundreds of glowworms at the cave. State of the art sophisticated automated monitoring systems check air quality, rock and air temperature, humidity and carbon dioxide.