nikki wynn in glow worm cave


Searching out glowworms was on my bucket list long before we set sail for New Zealand. But between the winter weather, lockdown, and boat projects, we haven’t explored much beyond the marine chandlers.

Until now!

I had a toy Gloworm as a little girl that was practically attached to my chest. To me he wasn’t a toy, he was my beacon of safety in the dark.

So you can imagine how my inner child squealed when David Attenborough showed me that my beloved glowworm was alive and well in New Zealand.

And not just a glowworm but a whole galaxy of them…now that is a childhood fantasy come true.

We knew trying to capture bioluminescent creatures wasn’t going to be easy.  And we knew our gear wasn’t quite right…but wow, it was sooo much more of a commitment than we could have ever anticipated.

Without further ado, here is what we made of 10 hours inside a limestone cave with one of New Zealand’s most magical natural wonders.



As if capturing glowworms on camera isn’t challenging enough…we decided to get photos of us too.  Turns out, standing still and looking natural for a full 35-60 seconds is my greatest challenge.  But, this is as close to being in an Avatar movie as I will ever get…so it was worth it!

jason and nikki wynn inside glowworm cave new zealand

glowworms in new zealand

glowworms new zealand

glowworms new zealand



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Hello there! I honestly don’t know what to say, so I am going to tell you a bunch of random facts instead. I'm a fish eating vegetarian who hates spiders and loves snakes. I almost never took vacations growing up. I wanted to be Pippi Longstocking (still do). I misspell about every other word I write and still struggle with grammar. I love splurging on a good high tea (which is really hard to find these days). And whatever you do, don’t tell me I can’t do something, because then I'll HAVE to do it!

Comments (66)

  • Bernard

    You guys are wonderful!Moved me to tears… Thanks for telling your story Nikki! Very courageous! Bernard

  • Joanna

    Thank You!!! Sniff sniff 😥😰 I know you must be a very private person as I am and I know that was hard for you to tell let a lone hit “Publish”. But thank you so much for doing so. As soon as you started hesitating I started getting all choked up, I could tell it was going to be a doosie. Sweet heart ❤ you are and just did shine your light for others that have had trama (me included) showing them that they can move forward and in the way of success, not just Surviving but Thriving. You two Thrive everyday and you two individually and collectively inspire others so much to never just accept a bad situation with defeat but with keep on keeping on and with smiles and laughter. You both are a delight!!! Keep shinning your lights, so others can see through the darkness. Love to you both. Joanna from Alaska!!😘💝 Hugs!!!

  • Melissa Watson

    Nikki thank you for sharing your story. You are brave and your courage grew through your glow worm. I know this will help someone be brave from hearing your experience.

  • Betty Hurd

    You guys have such a remarkable ability to weave a story, thank you. Absolutely enchanting video, I learned so much. Thank you for your childhood disclosure, I had a stuffed dog that kept me safe, thank you.

  • Carolyn Barton Scholl

    Thank you both for the most lovely video. And to Nikki for bravely telling her story of trauma. I am taking inspiration from this as I have lost my husband of 44 years. We were lucky enough to have traveled to 33 countries so seeing your travels inspires me. I was much younger than my husband and have a lot of life left to live. Your adventures help me. Thank you.

  • Hank Heyns

    It’s always cool to watch your adventures. Niki, you turned out amazing, and on top of that, sailed around the world.

    • Stephen J Hoevelman

      And became the type of woman Jason could fall in love with.

  • Margie

    Wow, really enjoyed this video. You take us to places we know we’ll never see. Awesome. You two are so brave. I was concerned that you wouldn’t find your way out, but knowing that you made the video & you “saw the light at the end of the tunnel” Nikki, I obviously knew you made it. Your glow worm story was very touching, thank you for sharing that. The girl singing was an extra bonus. Can’t wait to see your next adventure. M.

  • Tracey

    Thank you for sharing, your world makes mine even better.

  • Michael Wodzinski

    I wish I were a glow worm,
    A glow worm’s never glum.
    ‘Cause how can you be grumpy,
    When the sun shines on your bum?!

  • Susan K

    All of your stories and videos are amazing. The work you put in is appreciated. I found you while looking for RV trips to Alaska and then looked you up to find out where you’d gone to next. I had no idea it was on a boat. 4 years already! Anyway I have been trying to catch up and see all the many adventures you’ve had and I think I’m finally there. And then this edition drops. Wow. In so many ways. Thank You Nicki for being the amazing person you are. How you were brave enough to share that piece of you that you probably try to keep in a deep place inside I’ll never know. But magic happens in caves full of glow worms.

  • Penny Novak

    Wildly wonderful adventure once again.
    Nikki, thank you for sharing 3 yr old yourself. Those of us who had trauma as a child share to help others know they too can move on!
    Love you both.
    Keep sharing the adventures!!!

  • Sam

    Wow, great video! How did you not get lost?!

    Our experiences, especially as children help define us, but they’re not who were are. I think you’re a wonderful person!

  • Sarah

    Really lovely video. I really appreciate your vulnerability in sharing your story. My husband and I look forward to your Sunday videos as a key part of our Sunday traditions. Seeing your travels helps open the world for me, which is so valuable. I appreciate your curiosity and openness and wish you lots of joy and sweet moments. Thank you thank you thank you for putting your videos out into the world.

  • Keith Clark

    Nikki, thanks so much for sharing your story. Not only did it seem very cathartic for you, its very uplifting for those out there that are going through similar situations. Most that are in those situations only see the right now and think that it can never get better. Actually seeing how you are living an amazing life holds more to someone that the mere words “It will get better”. Thank you for all of those people!!

  • smorton

    This post is why I love following you guys. Personal, another beautiful adventure, wonderful video work. Nikki, you are so brave for sharing the story of your childhood with us. We all need glowworms to protect us.

  • Diane Silverstein

    I’m not sure what to say. Only that I greatly appreciate you both and am so happy you are in my world 🌍! ❤️ Thank you. -Diane


    Beautifully obsessive!

  • Lisa

    Amazing…… so beautiful, ALL of it!
    Thank you for sharing your story!

  • Marcelo

    Excellent chapter! Following you always forma Uruguay.

  • Holly

    All these many years that I have been following you, I knew you had a story there that wasn’t being told. Thank you for sharing it now with us. You didn’t have to but you did and I am sure it was healing to do so; it also helps us share ours. Brave and beautiful.

  • Kathy

    Your story moved me to tears. Thank you for being so brave and sharing your life! I’ve been watching you for years and you inspire me!

  • craig hayman

    Kia Kaha, Nikki. Cool photos Jason. If you come into Whangarei, have a look at Abby caves- also neat.

  • Theodore Enrique

    Nikki, I’m glad that you’re life turned out well in spite of your early childhood trauma. Both of you enjoy your lives and thank you for letting us be a part of them.

  • Pam McClure

    P.S. what would I do without you taking me to the coolest places? That one was poignant indeed. It also gave me some claustrophobia. Hugs to the three year old.

  • Alan Solomon

    Thanks very much Nikki and Jason for the effort you both put in for this video this Sunday.
    Reminds me of a video you guys did back in the Bahamas I think it was. A little boy took you for a tour in a big cave with some big, big stalactites that had unusual shapes to them!! Then, I believe you guys went to get ice cream at a local ice cream stand there. 🍨
    Nikki, I am really happy and glad you did not get the same unfortunate gene from your Mother. In the scenario you described that can happen a lot. You are definitely opposite of that lifestyle and have turned into a fun, confidant, beautiful person today. 😊
    As someone said just a bit earlier, “thanks for spending 10 hours in a cave”! 👍

  • Pam McClure

    Holy mackerel! 💐💐

  • Sam

    Dear Nikki:

    Thank you so very much for sharing your story. You have no idea how much it touched me and many, many others.

    To think that you have worked to rise above the challenging circumstances of your early years gives me such inspiration to overcome the challenges in my own life.

    You have taken your pain and turned it into love, joy, and peace toward others.

    I can’t even imagine how hard it has been for you to work through everything, but please know that I and so many others have been blessed by the love and optimism you share with others through your videos and your daily actions.

    Someone shared this quote with me recently and it made me think of you, Nikki, and your kindness and compassion toward others:

    “The kindest people are not born that way, they are made. They are the sounds that have experienced so much at the hands of life, they are the ones who have dug themselves out of the dark, who have fought to turn every loss into a lesson. The kindest people do not just exist — they choose to soften where circumstance has tried to harden them, they choose to believe in goodness, because they have seen firsthand why compassion is so necessary. They have seen firsthand why tenderness is so important in this world.” — Bianca Sparacino

  • Graham Stevens

    Nikki, your personal story couldn’t have been easy to share. However, I’m sure its “one LESS brick in the wall” (to twist Pink Floyd). Thank you for your courage. Rest assured, it will help someone else handle a horrible situation. Courage always comes through.


    Graham Stevens

  • Kim

    Thank you Nikki for your story. It was a very powerful testament to the resiliency of the human spirit. Thank you both as well for this video, as well as all that have come before, and all that are to come. I look forward to your adventures each week, as I did when you were RVing. I got hooked on your videos during your RV adventures through Canada and Alaska, and five years ago we duplicated some of your Alaska voyage. Using your coordinates, we actually camped at the exact same spot that you did along the Racing River where you saw the double rainbow! I’ve been a fan ever since.

  • Jodi

    I will have to say this episode has to be one of the most touching videos you have made. It takes courage to share your story Nikki. You are a beautiful person and loved so much by your family and the sailing community. Both you and Jason have such big hearts. Thank you for sharing your story with us.

  • Mary Van

    My heart was heavy for you. I had never heard this story, it was brave of you to share.

    I am so thankful you and Jason found each other. You 2 were meant to be together and find the deep love you share. xxoo

  • Ember

    Nikki, Thank you for sharing this piece of your heart with us. There is a healing practice in shamanism called soul retrieval. Are you familiar with the concept? The idea is that bits of our soul/heart/psyche get kind of stuck or frozen in time, separated from our conscious self, especially when we experience a traumatic situation at a young age. Soul retrieval is a process of imaginatively and/or ritually going back to that time or place to find the parts of us that got left behind and reunite with them, closing the wound, as it were. Becoming whole again. This is what I thought of in relation to you telling your story in the glow worm cave. You are a remarkable person, courageous and kind, and I am so grateful every time you let us glimpse your inner world. I understand completely your mixed emotions about sharing this story. It is deeply personal and painful. But I know from my own trauma/recovery work that there is power in the telling. I hope this is all healing for you. The photography was beautiful, and so are the two of you. Thank you!

  • Bob Smith

    At least your stuck in the greatest country on the planet. Thanks for sharing so much of your journey with us. I know you each work long hard hours to share your lifes with us. Thanks!

  • Marsha

    I always learn so much from your videos & this one gave me the willies, but loved it. Thanks for sharing your story, Nikki❤️ You are an amazing, strong woman.

  • Tami

    Wow!! What a video!! Loved the gloworms! Thank you Nikki for being vulnerable & sharing your story. It touched my heart. I have followed you all since your RVing days. Love the adventures you go on. Had to turn my head during some of the tight spaces in the cave! Thank you again!

  • CMBenton

    This was a GREAT video. I deal with some claustrophobia and there were some scary moments! 🙂 The glow worms are absolutely gorgeous. Thank you for taking us on your adventure. ❤❤ to the adult and three year old Nikki.

  • OjaiLynda

    Nikki, you are to be commended for sharing your personal story, especially as we all feel you two are family now after Following you for several years. I thought night swimming with sharks took bravery, but this video…tops the list. We are happy to know you came out the other side with a positive, uplifting attitude. You may never know how many people you have affected/helped along this journey, simply know that you have. May the ripples continue!

  • Steve Gibbons

    Beautiful story you guys. NZ glow worms are spectacular. We do have a few in Aussie and they don’t bite here either 🙂 . Lovely that you were brave enough to share your story Nikki. Its wonderful how nature can help with healing. Jason you’ve done a great job with the images you’ve captured and I have a tip for you about rock formations. You cant “un forget” this once I share it with you…….. OK – When the might’s go UP the tights come Down! There , now you’ll remember! Happy travels and for Nikki check out High Tea QVB it might be just your thing. Today is ” Freedom” day in Sydney so hopefully lock downs are behind us and we can all look forward. Cheers

  • Gerry Brentnall

    What a great video. And thanks, Nikki, for sharing your story. You’ve grown up into a beautiful, caring woman despite your mother. And kudos to your dad for his role in raising you to be the person you are. Stay safe.

  • Mary Nelson

    One of my favorite posts for many reasons. You guys have guided our travels for 7 years now, half each year in a little RV. Now we look forward to every Sunday when a new video hits our inboxes. You guys are masterful storytellers, and skillful in what you share of your private, inner lives versus public, adventure filled lives. This video is a perfect example of getting the tenor just right, such a delicate balance between vulnerability and invincibility. Thank you. And look at the comments!!! You move so many people who have been so articulate about this particular episode. Carry on! Perhaps you’ll have to add a little Glow worm to your Curiosity cat print – your little beacon.

  • Dan S Brown

    This was such a thought provoking video! How did a little girl torn from the safety of her family home and dragged into a world of drug addiction and altered morals turn into such a beautiful woman? And just imagine what would happen if you didn’t go into that cave with extra batteries and lights? I applaud your bravery and that of Jason who walked beside you into “The twilight zone”.

  • Bob Wolford

    Nikki, your story was filled with moving and inspirational moments. I am 71 and have spent a major portion of my professional career providing treatment/services for children and adults who have experienced complex trauma. I would appreciate being allowed to share the glow-worm story with children during trauma recovery. I love the use of the glow-worm as a safe, protective transitional object for you from harm to recovery. Because of what you shared, I am considering getting some glow–worm toys for children and sharing your story with them – if that is alright with you. You and Jason are remarkable souls.

  • Scott Adamson

    Thanks, guy’s for a great video the part where Nikki told us about her past was heart-wrenching I can not imagine how you would have felt as a little girl knowing that your Mum didn’t want you, but I am glad at the beautiful and rounded woman you have turned into. The glow worms were fantastic they reminded me of the Waitomo Caves on the West coast of the North Island about opposite Rotorua you had to pay and were taken on a boat ride but lots more glow worms. Looking forward to the next video.

  • Michael Larkin

    Thanks to both of you very brave folks. Nikki your story was so brave, I am sure you have moved on from the fantasy to the reality now. Be careful when in caves they can fill up very quickly with rain and cut your exit off.
    Michael, Dublin, Ireland

  • Stephanie Salgado

    Wow Nikki, sharing your story will help people know that one can have an amazing outcome no matter what challenges out of their control happened to them in life.

    You are amazing Nikki. I would never have known by the way you carry yourself, with pose, class and grace. I would think you came from a privileged background.

    I cried for this little girl. Thank you for sharing. I don’t think you know how your shared story can help other to prevail!

    Keep sharing, I think your heart healed bounds with your adventure and story.

  • Bill Piper

    Wow, oh wow. The effort you (Jason) went through to get those 5 seconds of video is so appreciated. Thank you for all the time, equipment and effort to make it possible for us to be there, seeing and feeling what you experienced!
    The entire 20 minute segment may be one of the best you’ve ever done…, not from the fantastic photos and videos, but from the heart-wrenching 2 minutes of an up close and personal account from Nikki’s early life.
    Her face was never more beautiful, and her heart never more exposed than this touching account of triumphing over adversity. No one can ever be traumatized more than by having a mother who (gulp 😢) throws you away.
    What a jewel you’ve become, Miss Nikki.
    May God continue to bless you, Jason, and all of us as we excited anticipate and watch each episode of a life most of us can only dream about.
    Godspeed, my friends. Until next time. ❤️

  • Peter Drury

    Nikki and Jason,
    This was heartbreaking, heartwarming and awe inspiring.
    Jason, one of the glowworm videos was reminiscent of a deep space picture from Hubble!
    Thankyou so much for sharing this with us all.

  • Donald M Vories

    Hi Nikki,

    Just finished watching your experience in the cave with the glowworms. But more fascinating and endearing was your childhood story when you were 2 and earlier. About your mother preparing to sell you for drug money. What a story. All I can say is God has a plan for you and is using you in a most terrific way. You are so talented in your video presence and writing. You are a super neat couple. I will be thinking about your story now for some time. I have a story as you do, and I can relate. Keep up the good work and I can’t wait for your next video. YOU ARE CERTAINLY BLESSED. Don V

  • Todd B

    This was a fascinating journey into the cave with so much bravery both literally and existentially. Thanks for sharing your childhood, you showed a lot of courage and you are not alone! The gloworms were incredible and congrats on getting great footage. Also, seeing the eel was super cool. We know so little about eels, they are also pretty magical creatures!

  • Mona H.

    Wow! You brought back some memories this morning. I personally didn’t have a « glow worm », but my sister did…. We were sharing a bedroom. When I started having recurring bad dream of a uniclop running after me in a hospital with « boobitrap » and a ton of obstacles, it took me a while to understand but I knew I could run towards the glowing light… and you probably guess right, it was my sister glow worm toys that she was holding.
    Thank you for sharing your story Nikki

  • Barbara Burns

    My husband and I love your show. We bounce around sometimes, so don’t always watch chronologically, so I’m not sure when you filmed the glow worm episode, but I just wanted to say how brave Nikki is for sharing her story. Thank you for allowing yourself to be open enough to share that story even knowing that trolls will probably make snarky comments behind their veil of anonymity. I have a newfound respect for you. Peace.

  • Art Corey

    Very cool…

  • Ann

    This is a great one, you guys. It resounds with courage, the whole thing, from Nikki’s story (❤️) to the time spent under ground, in the dark, and in the murky water you had to cross. I love that it’s ok to be afraid and to push through that. Thanks for spending 10 hours in a cave.

  • Michael

    Wow! What a story of wonder, with a happy ending. I couldn’t agree more with all the other posts. Thank you so very much.

    Always remember that you guys are greatly loved by all of us and our heavenly Father. You are awesome.

  • Greg

    A beautiful video and a heart wrenching story. Thanks so much for sharing.

  • Jan

    Beautiful, amazing, fascinating video. Again you’ve taken me places I will never be able to visit. Thanks for the education, enjoyment and friendship I feel (even if you don’t know me at all.)

  • Linda

    Thank you for sharing your wonderful adventures. Something most of us will never experience. We can enjoy vicariously through you. I look forward to your post every Sun. Be safe, enjoy being young & God bless & take care of you.

  • Lisa Bee

    Nikki, thank you for being brave and pushing “Publish”. Your journey and who you’ve become resonates and illustrates that we can overcome and create something much brighter.
    Much appreciated.

  • Jenn McFarland

    Thank you for sharing your story, and wonder, and adventure. I’m glad little Nikki found a safe light in the dark times and grown up Nikki gets to follow her Curiosity. Thanks again! 💜

  • Dick Carlsson

    What a sweet (sad) story, Nikki! You’re very brave to tell all of us about that.

  • iris williams

    Hi you guys,
    I’m Iris. my husband Kirk and I have been watching your adventures for awhile now, and enjoy them all.
    You just completely won our hearts with your glow worm video! We love your bravery. Thank you for sharing your 3 year old self with us. That was the bravest thing, bigger than wading through water with eels! Your footage of the glow worms was well worth all that you went through to get it. Thanks for letting us travel vicariously through you!
    On a side note…
    I’ve been writing a story about a brave girl who gets stuck in a cave with glow worms!

  • Diane

    Thank You for that cave video….cause no way I was going in there on my own. Also, thank you Nikki for sharing your family story. One of my foster care placements was stolen at her visit drop off (dragged the social worker down the road as they sped off with the diaper bag hooked on the side mirror of the car). I got her back two weeks later with hair cut like a boy. People thought the toddler wasn’t traumatized because she was with her mother. She too got placement with her father’s but I always wondered how she faired. I’m going to imagine she is having as much fun as you guys are!

  • John Hamel

    Enjoyed this and inspired to go to New Zealand now. Sailing adventures even better! Thanks

  • Ruth Lowery

    Nikki I told Mary I wanted to make sure you went there & to the Glacier while in NZ. I was there in 1999 & found so much magic on the S. Island. Spent 10 days on the N. island with the Maori on their properties. Enjoy that beautiful country.

    • Paul Gagne

      Wow, great adventure and thanks for sharing that touching story Nikki.


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