The Little Earth Lodge is a little piece of heaven, lost in the surrounding mountains of Whangarei, Northland. Polly and David, the owners, are two adorable human beings, two English people who bought the place 18 months ago.
THE LITTLE EARTH LODGE
The lodge is self-sufficient, which means that the water is coming from a source and it’s heated thanks to solar energy. Waste is recycled as much as possible. Cleaning supplies are naturals and biodegradables. The dog and the rooster are coming from SPCA. We reached the place the day before, at night time, tired as fuck after the Southern Right Whale Day, and we finally discover this Lodge in the morning’s light.
David tells us about those quite close Abbey Caves, three caves full of glow worms, that we could reach by foot. He offers us to borrow some gear from the lodge, a helmet, a head torch and some special shoes that will prevent us from slipping on rocks. He advises us to go there wearing shorts and not to bring anything more (or, if we really would like to, we need a supermarket plastic bag, because the caves are humid and water could reach our knees). The caves could be immersed and very slippery for it was raining the past few days. Well, it seems dangerous yet manageable.
There’s something I’m not saying out loud at this moment. I’m actually freaked out. I’ve never been inside caves before, and it doesn’t really look easy considering how bad my balance is. Did he just mention slippery rocks? Did he just say the word ‘dangerous’? Anais seems to know what she’s doing, her very presence is comforting me.
THE ABBEY CAVES
Okay. So it seems like today I’m going caving.
We shot pictures of our outfits before leaving because we won’t bring our camera with us into those humid caves. We laugh by picturing how we’ll look after our adventure, most probably covered with mud. It’ll be an amazing Before/After kind of picture.
After a short walk into the fields, we reach the Organ Cave, the biggest of the three caves. When I see the entrance, I froze. It can’t be. Are we really going down there? There’s a perceptible hesitation. We put our plastic bags in front of the entrance. And we go there. We actually go down there. At this very moment, I switch on the automatic pilot button. I’m following Anais. I put one foot in front of the other. I put my hands on muddy rocks. I slide on my ass. I twist myself in unlikely poses. I move forward. Step by step. Baby steps. Slowly, but surely. We get deeper and deeper into the dark cave. And after some time, we have our feet into the water. It’s cold, it’s dark, but it doesn’t matter.
After a while, we start to see the glow worms. I don’t think I understand everything about the scientific reasons why those worms are glowing, but it seems that they’re glowing thanks to a chemical composition which allows them to attract preys. They even glow brighter if they’re hungry. We have water reaching our asses now. We keep on moving forward and finally get back on the ground.
At some point, the entire cave’s ceiling is lighted with glow worms, like a sky full of stars. With Anais, we find some comfortable rocks to lie on and we enjoy the show. Silence is surrounding us. I still have no idea how long we stayed there gazing, relaxed and amazed. Before going backwards, we would like to go furthermore, to reach the end of the cave. Obstacles after obstacles, we climb rocks, we bend down, we wade. I try hard not to think about my fear of heights, about how tiny and narrow this place is, about how dark it is over here, I’m just following Anais’ steps. When we finally reach the end of the cave, the feelings of relief and proudness are pretty intense, WE ARE BLOODY CAVE ADVENTURERS BABY! On our way back, we keep on thinking about the nice sandwiches we packed in our supermarket plastic bags.
We find shelter under a tree for it started to rain again, and we think about the last two caves left, Middle Cave and Ivy Cave. It would be silly to stop here. I’m exhausted, my legs are still trembling from my previous bravery, but Anais convinced me to go on. There are people like that, they push you further, they make you thrive, they have this kind of (solar) energy that’s nourishing you and makes you want to grow stronger. Anais is definitely like that.
Here we go again, climbing down those two other caves, way smaller than the Organ Cave, in which we stare at some more glow worms, amazed and dazzled and we finally make our way back to the lodge…
We’re muddy and smiling, with our plastic bundles, that we make the After picture. Muttie, the Little Earth’s dog, jump on me to clean up my muddy face with her scratchy tongue.
This night, after our glorious adventure, we meet this nice Scottish couple, Sophie and Russel, with whom we decide to go explore the Whangarei Falls the day after…
This Northland Roadtrip is definitely about adventures.
LET’S GO THERE!:
Little Earth Lodge (BBH), 85 Abbey Caves Road, Whangarei
Abbey Caves, on the Abbey Caves Road