It took eight months and at least 60 hours camping out in dank caves, but for photographer Jordan Poste, this captivating timelapse video of New Zealand’s glowworms was worth all the effort ...

The light show comes from an unassuming source: the fungus gnat. Usually, fungus gnats are nothing special – small, drab flies not really worth a mention. But New Zealand is home to a particular species capable of putting on a breathtaking display.

In the larval stages, Arachnocampa luminosa gnats spend about six months sheltered within the subterranean safety of a cave network on New Zealand’s North Island, where they use their special abilities to hunt for prey. Their blue-green glow is emitted thanks to special organs in their tails, and the glow acts like a luminous lure for unsuspecting prey. After trapping their meal, the hungry larvae hoist it up to be devoured with the help of silky "fishing lines" beaded with droplets of mucus.

But photographing the charismatic gnats is no easy feat. Poste’s first attempt ended in failure when his equipment let him down and the harsh cave conditions proved more than he had bargained for. Determined to overcome the challenges, Poste returned a few months later, better prepared and ready to stick it out for the long hours needed to get the right exposure. Accompanied by his partner Jenna Cock, he achieved some success but only managed to capture 25 seconds of usable footage.

Not one to give up, Poste went back a third time. “Determined to finish the project, I went on a 40-hour marathon in May during a free weekend,” he explains on his blog. “I slept for brief 30-minute intervals on an air mattress on the cave floor with my alarm continually going off to check the camera as it moved a couple of millimetres at a time.”

The long hours paid off. When the triumphant photographer eventually emerged from the cave "slightly delirious and in a zombie-like state", he had enough material to stitch together a stunning timelapse that showcases one of New Zealand's unique natural wonders.

Jenna and Jordan are an adventurous Canadian couple who moved to New Zealand in 2013. They blog at Stoked for Saturday.