Glow-worms!! The wonderful little town of Waitomo has built their entire tourist industry around these twinkly little bugs and they have a wide range of trips to suit all tastes, from full on caving with wetsuits and 'Black Water' rafting to guided (dry) caving trips that are great with kids. To be fair I've done all three types and they are very good (future blog post I think), you get to see the Glow-worms close up and in their natural habitat whilst being quite adventurous too. Imagine my surprise when I was told about the activity on offer from Kiwi Outback Adventures right here in Great Lake Taupo where you can see these little fella's in the bush, at night, having travelled there in either a 4x4 or on a Quad-Bike!
Some things just go together; Fish and Chips, Bacon and Eggs but Quad Biking and Glow-worms? Now Taupo is known for many things; it's outstanding natural beauty, its wide and varied sporting and events calendar but not usually as a destination for Glow-worms so I was really rather keen to see just what it would be like.
Back in 2001 my wife and I came to New Zealand on our honeymoon (we emigrated 5 years later) and whilst here we went Quad-Biking three times. This would suggest that I quite like riding on these four wheeled speed demons but you'd be wrong, I love it!! I've done the trips with Happy Valley Adventures in Nelson, a snowy trip in Hanmer Springs, a very wet one with On Yer Bike! in Greymouth and Taupo Quad Adventures superb trip through the forests. Each of these offered something the others didn't whether it be snow, huge amounts of mud and water or super fast forest tracks, but none had ever offered night time Quading with a truly marvellous spectacle at the end.
Kiwi Outback Adventures owned and operated by Peter, a true blue Kiwi bloke, is on Poihipi Road about 10 minutes from Taupo town centre and is where this adventure began. You start at the base with a few words of warning from your host, he let's you know that if you break it you will pay for it to be fixed and if you mess about too much he'll send you packing! Stern words but very necessary as these are powerful bikes and can seriously move whilst losing control at high speed would not be much fun. Once you've had the warnings then the fun can begin, you race off along the track at your own pace firstly through open farmland then into native bush. This is where it get tricky, no racing here as the track twists and turns between trees and mud holes, all your new found skills are tested to the fullest. Every step of the way your guide is just ahead keeping an eye on proceedings and making sure that everyone is safe, he stops you now and again to show an interesting feature, a new work in progress and share his knowledge of Aotearoa. Peter's enthusiasm for his work is incredible, he is constantly working to upgrade existing tracks, cutting new ones or making changes to see more of this amazing native setting. Once you get clear of the bush you notice that the sun is going down and it's time to flick on the headlights and enter the forest. Once inside the track widens, you can put your foot down and fly along in semi-darkness hanging on for dear life! Soon enough you reach a clearing and are asked to turn off the bikes and the headlights and once your eyes adjust you are greeting by hundreds of lights in the trees, but wait, down a short track are even more Glow-worms dangling from an overhang covered in ferns and bush. The darkness is so complete that the little lights seem to be everywhere all around you, a really spectacular sight to behold! The trip lasts for about three hours, it feels like so much more and every second is wonderful. As I wrote before, I've done several Quad-Biking and Glow-worm trips but this tops them all, you get to see all aspects of the New Zealand countryside, it is completely unique and brilliant.
Kiwi Outback Adventures offer much more besides Quad Biking and Glow-worms, you can zoom around one of their many and varied tracks in a 'Bush Buggy', put you sparkling new 4x4 through it's paces and see what it was really built for, go Paintballing in NZ's largest native bush battleground or try the 'Orb'!!
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