Waitomo Caves Travel Guide
Lady guide in the entrance to the...
Things to Do
This photo is a photo of the carpark...
Spectacular visitor centre
This breathtaking construction has really taken me in. It was built after a massive fire that destroyed the visitor centre in 2005.The new building is spectacular, using native materials and blending into the lush native forest surroundings, creating an enclosed and open...
The other caves that can be visited
The other two caves that can be visited are Ruakuri and Aranui Caves. On photos they surely look more impressive than the main cave – and photography is allowed.I have not been in either of these two caves as I thought I had spent too much money on the Glow Worm Cave...
The boat ride
This is the highlight of the tour – when you slide through the dark, the ceiling of the cave lit up like a night sky lit up by millions of stars. The stretch of river/cave visited is not very long, so the guide pulls the boat along the metal ropes attached to the walls of...
The Cathedral and other underground formations
The Cathedral is the highlight of the walking tour. It is on the lower level of the Waitomo Cave. The acoustics in this 18 metre high enclosed cavern is impressive. You will hear that New Zealand’s mega-famous opera diva Dame Kiri Te Kanawa has sung in this part of the cave...
Guided tour of the Glowworm Caves
You cannot access the caves on your own but on guided tours only.These guided tours of the Main Cave include a 250 metre walk through the cave and a boat ride through the glow worm grotto.Tours depart every half hour from 9am to 5pm. Additional tours at 5.30pm between 31...
Do not touch stalactites and stalagmites
-Never touch stalactites and stalagmites!!!Your fingers release grease that seals the limestone, so the lime cannot stick to the stone, and further growth is inhibited.Fragile young formations can break, others get discoloured.Several people not sticking to this rule, and...
Shut up! LOL
You can talk as much as you want in the limestone caves – but you have to be quiet in the glow worm grotto. The glow worms are easily disturbed by light and noise. To guarantee their survival you have to be quiet for 15 to 20 minutes while the boat glides on the silent...
Don’t arrive last minute
Despite the vicinity – twelve kilometres only - it takes quite a while to get from Te Kuiti to the Waitomo Caves. The last few kilometres are on a very winding road, and my speedy approach was also slowed down by roadworks and temporary road blocks. Once at the carpark, you...
Get on an early or late tour
To best enjoy the tour you should try to get on the first tour in the morning or one of the tours in the late afternoon.A former guide where I stayed told me to absolutely get on the first tour in the morning to avoid the crowds that arrive from Auckland and Rotorua or...
Get properly dressed
It is ice-cold in the caves, so get properly dressed.The temperatures are so low that you need winter clothes, a warm fleece and anorak, and sturdy shoes.I thought it would also be a good idea to take a towel for the boat trip. The seats were wet and not properly wiped, so...
No photography in the Glowworm Cave
Even our guide wondered why photographing is prohibited on these guided tours while it is allowed in the other caves. One reason could be the huge amount of tour groups being herded through the cave. If everybody tried to get the right angle and would step back and forth,...
short walks - #4 Marakopa Falls
The track to Marakopa Falls starts from a roadside rest area along the Te Anga Road out of Waitomo Village - it is slightly further on from Mangapohue and Piripiri. There is a large green Dept of Conservation sign marking the rest area so it's easy to spot.A wide gravel...
short walks - #3 Mangapohue Natural Bridge
The walk to Mangapohue Natural Bridge starts from a roadside rest area further along the Te Anga Road from Piripiri - there is a sign at the rest area, so you won't miss it. There are also picnic tables here.The first part of the track is a boardwalk, and includes a short...
How to get to the Waitomo Caves
- The problem with the Waitomo Caves is that they do not really lie on the direct tourist routes and are a detour at most times – despite not being really far away from some of the main centres.Auckland is about 200 kilometres or a 2.5 hours drive north of Waitomo. Hamilton...
The Waitomo District
The Waitomo Caves are the major drive of tourism in the Waitomo District, a nice green farmland of rolling hills and native forests, but also of forestry – which is less attractive.The main town and service centre of the Waitomo District is Te Kuiti, 12 kilometres from...
Information and contact
-The official website of the Waitomo Caves is well and truly amazing.There is so much information on it about everything that you nearly do not find it all although there are links everywhere – which might be the problem LOLWhether you want to learn about the glow worms, the...
Hours and prices
-(All prices as April 2011)The Glowworm Caves are open 365 days a year9am to 5.30pm (31 October until Easter Monday)Additional tours at 8am from 26 December until 28 February9am to 5pm in winterAdmission NZ$ 46Ruakuri Cave closed on Christmas Day (25 December)Tours depart at...
No wheelchair access to the Glowworm Cave
-There is no wheelchair access at the Glowworm Cave.You should be able to walk unaided and transfer into the boat without too much help needed. There are handrails, and the paths are well formed and should not pose big difficulties for someone who is reasonably mobile.For...
How the Glowworm Caves became a tourist attraction
-(This information is mainly from the Waitomo Caves website)The Waitomo Glowworm Caves were first explored in 1887 by local Maori Chief Tane Tinorau accompanied by an English surveyor Fred Mace. They built a raft of flax stems and with candles as their only lighting, floated...
The formation of Waitomo's caves
-About 300 limestone caves lie beneath the Waitomo region. Only three major caves can be visited: the Glowworm Caves, Ruakuri and Aranui Caves.The limestone was formed about 30 million years ago when the region – like many others in New Zealand – lay beneath the sea. (The...
Explore Deeper into Waitomo Caves