Galaxy Within a Cave

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Galaxy Within a Cave 1New 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.
  
Galaxy Within a Cave 2There 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.
  
Galaxy Within a Cave 3The 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.

Galaxy Within a Cave 4And now that you know this, try to erase it from your memory again and simply enjoy the view.
 
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Galaxy Within a Cave 7[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.


Galaxy Within a Cave 8Photos, 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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