I had another exciting day in this amazing country called New Zealand. So, I’ll tell you all. I woke up at 6:30 AM and finished packing and walked down with the guys to breakfast. There were the same things as yesterday: hash browns, bacon, cereal, pears, and all that good stuff. I love the breakfast here, as I’m glad we’re away from McDonald’s and all those places. I hate filling myself up with all that nasty junk. After breakfast, we loaded our luggage onto the coach, and we said goodbye to the Bay of Islands. I’m so happy I chose the Grand Explorer. The Bay of Islands and Cape Reinga were just amazing! About two hours into our journey south, we pulled into this German coffee shop. There, I got a Diet Coke, some postcards, a magnet, and a New Zealand hat. However, I tore the hat when I took the tag off. That sucks, but I can still wear it. We continued on with our journey southward. I’m just so amazed at all the green I see. About an hour later, we arrived in Auckland, where I was a few days ago. We again drove across the Auckland Harbour Bridge, and we stopped at the same hotel where we started a few days ago. We got to shop around for an hour and do whatever. I got a New Zealand raincoat. Even though it hasn’t rained a drop since I got here, that’ll likely change on the South Island. So, I’m prepared. I also picked up a New Zealand made t-shirt. It’s very annoying going to another country and all the souvenirs are made in China. I mean, I didn’t come to New Zealand to buy Chinese products. When I go to China, it’ll be another story. I also checked my email and Nora wrote to me. After that, I went to the coin shop and got some New Zealand one cent coins. At 12:30, we were on the road again, with some new people on our tour. The people who are doing the Grand Adventurer tour teamed up with us. Along the way, we learned to say “Kia Ora,” which is Maori for “hello.” We drove along the Waikato River at one point, which is New Zealand’s longest river. I’m not really fond of long road trips, but I’ve done them before. We’re going to be doing a lot of driving here, so I have to get used to it. We passed through Hamilton, and at about 3:30, we arrived in Waitomo at our lodge. It was very cool looking compared to the other boring hotels I’ve stayed at. Our room also has two floors with two beds on each floor, and there is no TV or telephone. After unloading our stuff, we were ready for blackwater rafting at Waitomo Caves. “Waitomo,” by the way, means “water entrance.” Our guide picked us up and took us to the place, where we dressed up in wetsuits. There was a lot of gear to put on and it was heavy because it was wet! We took some pictures in our wetsuits and then we started driving to the place where the tubes were. On the way, we drove around a roundabout, which is where the streets come together to form a circle. Once at the spot with the tubes, the bloke taught us to jump backwards in our tubes into the water. The water was freezing cold! After a couple of goes, we were ready for the caves. We drove to the caves and then walked down a staircase and entered the dark cave. I have to admit I was nervous at first, but it was also a great feeling. The stalactite formations were just absolutely amazing. I’m so happy I decided on coming here. We made our way through the cave. In some areas, we had to duck down because the stalactite was very low, and in other areas where there were waterfalls, we had to jump backwards in our tubes. Finally, the moment I was waiting for, came. Our guide had all of us turn off our lights, and then, the glow worms appeared! It was so, so magical; it was like stargazing underground. I just can’t explain how beautiful it was! A little while upstream, the guide had us all turn out our lights and let the glow worms be our guide. It was just so amazingly incredible! This should, without question, be the eighth wonder of the world! We spent about an hour in this wondrous cave. After our abseiling expedition, we rafted down the stream and then we drove back to the place where we had complimentary soup and bagels. The soup was tomato and it had to be the absolute best soup I’ve ever had, it was so good. I ate a few bagels as well, and checked my email and Nanees wrote to me, but I couldn’t write as much to her as I wanted to. After hanging out there for while, the bloke took us back to our lodge. I sorted out my laundry. Tom and I decided to wash our clothes together to save a little bit of money. At 7:30, we had dinner. We had pizza, salad, garlic bread, and ice cream for dessert. It was a very good dinner for a great day! I relaxed for awhile and did a postcard of Mt. Tongariro for T.C. and another postcard for my Mom. I got her one of a map of New Zealand, so she knows where I’ve been. I checked my email again and met a girl named Kristen from the Netherlands. At about 10:00, I walked with Tom down to Waitomo Caves Tavern, which is the local hangout for backpackers and other travellers. I ordered a Steinlager beer and shot a couple rounds of pool. What a great way to culminate the evening! I took note to the fact that in Maori, “men” means “tane,” and “women” means “wahine.” I saw that on the signs for the bathrooms. I got a Red Bull and got some pictures with the girls. There was also a group from California. Then, at 11:00, I decided to call it a night and I left the tavern. I called my dad to let him know that everything was cool here. Then, I showered. What a day this was! It will go down as one of the best days of my life. Early tomorrow, we leave for Rotorua, so, I better get some rest because I have a lot on my agenda for tomorrow. I’ll tell you about it then. Good Night.