Waitomo Caves + Rangiri
With Camilla needing to return home early, we had a long drive to get back to Auckland, but we decided to stop off at Waitomo caves anyway.
After lunch in Taumanarui, we got to the Caves just in time for a Glowworm cave tour, running from the carpark. The price for this is somewhat exorbitant — $28 each for a 40 minute tour — but it's worth it just for five or ten minutes in the dark with thousands of glowworms shining overhead, while the boat glides silently over the water. (No photos are allowed, lest flashes upset the glowworms.)
Afterwards Camilla rang Qantas and arranged a flight for the following morning — there were no evening flights we could make today — and then we drove to Auckland with brief stops in Kihikihi and Hamilton for phone cards and petrol. After some hunting around we found a motel in Mangere, then went out for (very ordinary) Indian.
Thursday 24th February
We got up at 4.30am, checked the oil and water, and drove to the airport, where Camilla did some gift shopping before her flight. I stopped at the viewpoint to watch her plane take off, then drove back south in thick fog.