The cave-system and village of Waitomo forms a major tourist attraction in the southern Waikato region of the North Island of New Zealand, 12 kilometres northwest of Te Kuiti. The village of Waitomo Caves itself is very small, though the village has many temporary service workers living there as well. The word Waitomo comes from the Māori language wai meaning water and tomo meaning a doline or sinkhole; it can thus be translated to be water passing through a hole.
The main caves in the area are Waitomo Cave, Ruakuri Cave, Aranui Cave and Gardner's Gut. They are noted for their stalactite and stalagmite displays, and for the presence of glowworms (the fungus gnat Arachnocampa luminosa)
There are guided tours from Auckland several times per day; the boatride itself through the caves and the thousands of glowworms takes about 45 minutes.
If you are in the Waitomo area, you really should visit the glow worm caves.
You take a conducted boat trip through the caves
They really are spectacular and worth the visit
You can arrange Waitomo cave day trips from Hamilton, Taupo, Auckland and Rotorua
Join a guided tour, take a boat ride, marvel at Mother Nature's light display as you glide silently through the starry wonderland of the Glowworm Grotto. Meander underground along the Waitomo River and gaze in silence at the myriad of glowworm lights that make up the Glowworm Grotto. As you enter this galaxy of tiny living lights, you'll immediately experience a serene ambience and be fascinated and intrigued by tiny glowworms that light your way.
During the boat ride, no one is allowed to making loud noises... as this will scare off the glow worms and they will quench its glow to hide themselves.
I wonder if someone suddenly fart inside the glow worm caves... Hahaha...
When you leave Waitomo Cave, there is a road that leads through forest to Marakopa Falls and a natural bridge. It takes quite a while to reach these two attractions, but it is worth the drive. If you continue on this road, it will soon turn to gravel. You may think you are lost, but keep following this road and it leads to the main highway on the Tasman Sea. The scenery here was beautiful. Once on the highway, we were able to navigate our way out. Don't take this route if you don't have extra time. It took us at least 3 hours to reach the end of this road.
Maybe 1 km away from the entrance of the famous Waitomo Caves there is a farm/shop selling garments made of angora wool taken from their angora rabbits.
The staff give free 20/30 mins shearing demonstrations with informative "lecture".
You can also pet the rabbits and buy the garments if you want.
It's good fun (but a bit pricy) to go and see the caves and the glowworms. The boat trip within the caves itself is probably the best part, but it's good alround, particularly if you are interested in stalagtites!
The first European to see this cave was Fres Mace and he was shown it by Maori chief Tane Tanorau. Tane Tanorau was the first guide to these caves. there are a lot of glowworms in these caves and it also has stalacmites and stalactites ofcourse. The special thing about this cave is the boattrip at the end, giving you a great view of all the glowworms, making it look like a clear night outside.
The whole experience is eerie, almost moving as the guide pulls the boat along the underground river using ropes. We actually come out through a different opening than the one we entered through. I can just imagine how wonderful this must have been for the first discoverers. I have never seen anything like it!
The underground journey by boat is excellent. We board in almost complete darkness and float quietly and effortlessly through the underworld, where the ceiling is full of blue fairy lights. Very impressive!
The cave complex is a large underground system with walkways and railings. We are obviously here at a very popular time, there are far too many tourists, mostly Japanese. I feel maybe more could have been made out of the caves with clever lighting. We spend a lot of the time waiting for other tour groups to move on. Apparently it is even busier in summer!
One of the few places on earth to see the amazing glow worms. You ride on this sort of gondolas and enjoy sitting in the darkness in the cave and see the sparkles of these glow worms. ...simply amazing
Most ppl who make a stop at Waitomo do not stay the night as it's not too far from Auckland. Visitors will usually make a stop at the Glow Worm caves. No cameras are allowed inside but postcards are available for your purchase. A very interesting walk & boat ride into the caves and out.
These limestone for these caves first started to form 30 million years ago when Waitomo was under water. This movement also caused cracks and weaknesses through which rainwater began to flow forming caves. The rainwater mixes with a small amount of carbon dioxide in the air and so forms a weak acid then more carbon dioxide is absorbed from the soil. This acidic solution seeping through the rock dissolved the limestone and so over years created the caves. The Waitomo caves are famous for the glowworms that live in the caves. The glowworm is the larval stage of a small fungus-gnat, which emits light to attract its food. These glow worms are at their most spectacular in the caves but in fact they can be seen wherever the conditions are damp, food is in good supply and there is an overhanging wall (we also saw them during an evening walk at Lake Moeraki). The egg of the glow-worm is laid by the adult and hatch into larvae in about three weeks. After hatching the larva slowly grows from a few millimetres into the size and shape of a matchstick. It is only at this stage that the insect can feed. Throughout its time as a larva the glowworm emits a bright light. The glowworm builds a nest of mucous and silk in the shape of a hollow tube, which is attached to the roof of the cave by a series of fine silky threads. About 20 - 30 threads or fishing lines each coated with a sticky mucous are hung from the tube. Midges or other flying insects are attracted to the light, thinking they are flying towards daylight and are trapped in the sticky lines. The glowworm draws in the lines and eats the insect. In 6-9 months the larva pupates and then changes into the more complex adult fly. A local Maori chief and an English surveyor first explored the caves in 1887.
Kiwi House - Native Bird Park.
This gives you the chance to see the Kiwis in the nocturnal house plus lots of other native birds. The whole set up is well done and is being improved at the moment, it intrduces you to the native wildlife and the guides are very helpful and friendly.
There are many cave formation in Waitomo area. The world famous boat ride under thousands of magical glowworms and become a part of over 120 years of cultural and natural history.