Galaxy Within a Cave

Galaxy Within a Cave

New Zealand: the beautiful island of peace next to Australia; everyone’s favorite land of sheep and hobbits – and, apparently, magical caves. Just take a look at these enchanting lights. Bet you can’t guess what created them.
 
There is a system of caves in New Zealand famous for their natural illumination. This is what you see when you wander in deep enough: myriads of tiny lights covering the walls, reminiscent of a starry sky. The underground galaxy attracts thousands of tourists every year and is one of New Zealand’s main must-see places.
 
The reason for this natural phenomenon? Glowworms.
Yes, these nondescript mosquito-like insects are to thank for the magic that lights up the caves. New Zealand glowworms, Arachnocampa luminosa, are a species endemic to this country. The glowworms dwell in forest settings, on damp overhanging stream banks and very frequently in caves. Although adult female insects emit a soft glow as well, the “worms” in question are actually the larvae. The light produced is a result of a biochemical reaction which serves the purpose of luring smaller insects into their sticky snares.

 

 

And now that you know this, try to erase it from your memory again and simply enjoy the view.
 

 

 
[Images courtesy of Joseph Michael, see more here]
Glowworms populate many caves in New Zealand, but the ones that gained the most fame are the Waitomo Caves, a majestic 30 million year old limestone formation. They have been a popular tourist attraction ever since the late 1880s, featured in several BBC documentaries, including Sir David Attenborough’s Life in the Undergrowth series.

 

 

Photos, of course, hardly do the Waitomo Glowworm Caves justice, but here is something that might give you a better idea. Recently a Canadian adventurer from Stoked for Saturday spent 60+ hours in the caves to shoot a beautiful time-lapse video. The result is the most striking thing we have seen in a long time…
 
No special effects, only nature at its finest. If this gives you a sudden desire to drop your job, sell your house and get on a plane to New Zealand – don’t worry, it’s normal. Just make sure you share your own experience with us.

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Category: Travel