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Disclaimer: Some of the activities mentioned in this post were received free of charge or at a discounted rate. We were psyched to have their support, but this post reflects our honest opinion on the activity.
The park allows camping, so we went early and set up our campsite. With some time to kill, I walked around the lake’s edge, enjoying the wildlife.
We met our guide, Jared, at 7 pm at the falls. He led us into the park where he set up a lakeside happy hour for us – cheese and crackers, chips and hummus, local fresh fruit, and local wines. While we enjoyed the view of the sun setting, Jared got our kayaks out and talked us through the tour.
We took off through the lake, kayaking past black swans and Canadian geese. The lake is extremely shallow, and very little current, so we paddled along slowly enjoying the view.
The lake forks and we took the left, paddling past a power plant and into the Canyon. The walls are steep, large boulders, with green moss and ferns contrasting with the dark stones. The air is moist, and water trickles or cascades over most of the rocks. Our private tour gave us the time to go in with Jared during daylight and discuss a set up for our camera to try to photograph the glow worms.
We went back out, up the other arm of the lake, and then paddled around the main section until it got dark. When we arrived back at the canyons we had to wait for the group tour to come out. The forest surrounded us, but you can still see glow worms here and there, winking at you through the leaves.
Once the group left, we entered in ourselves, with Jared towing us along. OH MY GOD. It was as if we’d stepped into a glow worm city. The glow worms clustered together in some spots or stretched out in lines along the rock ledges. Shapes, like constellations, emerged from the walls in these glowing, slightly blue pin-pricks of light.
I am so glad we did the glow worm tour, it is definitely one of the Top 5 things I’ve ever done to date. Unfortunately for you guys, it’s incredibly hard to capture in photos, and nearly impossible to capture on video. The large clusters of glow worms were in the middle of the canyon, where the walls were steep and there’s no place to set up a tripod. But, at the end of the canyon, we used a rock in the middle to set up our camera and get a few shots.
The next morning hiked the short waterfall loop in McLaren Falls Park. It was a nice forest walk, full of the usual silver ferns and lush vegetation
After our morning walk, we headed to Tauranga proper to hike Mount Maunganui.