Now that it is pretty obvious that I am behind on writing, I’m going to list some of my favorite memories of my birthday back in Murchison, Westport, and Charleston Glowworm Caves.
Once we set off from Nelson Lakes, we headed to Westport for some surfing. We had a stop off at an awesome waterfall I can no longer remember the name of and then posted up in Murchison at one of my favorite campsites we have stayed at. Murchison is known for it’s awesome white water rafting, but unfortunately we had just missed the 3-day trip take off.
However, we discovered a sandfly free gem called the Riverside Holiday Park. Since we have been traveling for a few months, we have learned to associate rivers with sandflies, but not here. The owner is a semi-retired Hawaiian, enjoying the good life of river living. We only stayed for a night, but I can’t wait to go back to this spot. We did end up booking the white water rafting for a couple days later down stream, but I wish we could have posted up here for a few days and played on the river for longer.
Westport Birthdays & Friends
Luckily, we happened across the coolest surf hostel in Westport called Basil’s Hostel. It had such central American vibes, a sundeck that blocked out the wind, tons of cool people (two of which we have now spent Christmas, NYE, and the last two weeks roadtripping with). We surfed, we ate good food, made good friends, and awesome memories.
We ended up posting up here for my birthday and they made me feel so incredibly special. We cooked fish tacos, made margaritas, they made me a surprise cake, and we had a bonfire on the beach at sunset. It was a week where strangers became good friends and we were truly sad to leave. Luckily, we took a couple friends with us, who are now family and the 4 of us are traveling North Island and beyond together.
Black Water Rafting & Glow Worms
On my actual birthday, Oli woke me up and surprised me with a car full of balloons and gifts and then took me black water rafting with Underworld Adventures to see glow worms for the first time. Your trip starts by getting suited up in thick wetsuits and taking a train ride through the jungle to the cave.
You grab your innertube and then hike up 160 steps to the entrance to the cave. The tour starts with exploring the cave systems on foot – all while carrying your inner tube! After gawking at the stalagmites and stalactites, drinking water falling from the cave roof, standing in awe at a hole in the ceiling, and sitting in the dark to see our first few glow worms, we set off to the underground river.
All hooked together with our feet under the armpits of the person behind us, our guide slowly and quietly paddled us in the dark. We turned a corner around rock and all of sudden the sky exploded in stars. I felt like I had stepped into Avatar, I have never seen anything so uniquely beautiful. I was stunned and wished desperately to take a photo, but you can’t without disturbing them, so I stole some from their website to remember that moment.
Our fun wasn’t over yet, after we turned another corner to the mouth of the cave exit we got to do some casual white water tubing. It was nice to be back out in the sunshine and we giggled our way back to the train to hike our soggy butts back to the tour center. Needless to say it was a very epic 31st birthday.