A glowing paddle

The glowworm kayak is a unique experience. Photo: Alisha Evans.

Sitting in kayaks, staring at thousands of glowworms and listening to water trickle down the canyon walls, you wouldn’t think you’re only a short drive from Tauranga city centre.

The canopy of glowworm stars is in McLaren Falls Park, and the best way to see it is by doing the Waimarino evening glowworm kayak tour.

We started the tour with twilight refreshments of fruit and cheese platters near the shore of Lake McLaren.

Our guides, Josh and Hannah, gave a safety briefing then fitted us with life jackets and kayak spraydecks to keep us dry.

We pushed off as dusk set in, and the still of the evening was only broken by the sound of ducks and swans as we paddled past.

After a short kayak upstream to the mouth of the Mangapapa River, you start to see glowworms twinkling on the rocks.

Here is where we sat back and our guide took the reins. We linked kayaks and were paddled into the centre of the canyon.

Josh gave us a detailed talk about the lifecycle of a glowworm and how they eat and produce light as we took in the beauty of the night, surrounded by our glimmering hosts.

He sprinkles his chat with humour and adds his own flair, keeping us entertained and giggling.

Josh also shares the Māori story of creation, telling us that glowworms were Ranginui’s gift to Papatūānuku after they were separated.

The trip is as informative as it is fun and requires very little fitness. It is suitable for anyone aged eight and over.

Tours are in a double kayak, so you get to share the spectacle, and if you’re on your own or in an uneven numbered group you’ll be paired with a guide or another person on the tour.

It’s a great activity for families and will make a memorable school holiday activity. For families with younger children, the tour is available in the Big Kanu.

The experience takes around three hours and you’re on the water for an hour-and-a-half.

Enjoying glowworms up close is not something I expected to be able to do in Tauranga, and it’s a night I won’t forget.

To find out more visit: www.glowwormkayaking.com

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