- Location: Southern Waikato region of the North Island, New Zealand
- Best Time to Visit: Throughout the year
- Getting there: Waitomo Glowworm Caves, situated 8 kilometers along Waitomo Caves Road, are within proximity to the North Island. It is about 2 hours south of Auckland, 2 hours west of Rotorua and only 1 hour south of Hamilton. Depending upon your personal preferences, you will get the option of traveling by private car, self-drive hire car, motorhome or coach.
- Entry fee: 22.57 USD for the adult and 9.76 USD for the child
- Nearest airport: Hamilton International Airport
- Nearest rail station: Otorohanga
- Time required for sightseeing: Approximately 9 hours
This is a site like no other! Imagine thousands of glow-worms displaying their surreal iridescence within the dark recesses of a massive limestone cave, which goes up in tiers, matching in grandeur the most sublime Gothic cathedrals. The Waitomo Glowworm Caves, North Island, a part of the Waitomo Caves system that incorporates the Ruakuri Cave and the Aranui Cave, is famous for its population of glowworms, Arachnocampa luminosa. For more than 100 years, the trip to Glowworm Cave of Waitomo has attracted millions of travelers from all over the world.
The name Waitomo comes from the Maori word 'wai' meaning 'water' and 'tomo' meaning 'hole'. Waitomo Glowworm Caves, Waikato had been known to the Maori for quite some time before the wide-ranging exploration of 1887 by Tane Tinorau, the local Maori Chief and Fred Mace, an English surveyor.
Flora and fauna
The most distinguished animal found in the cave is the glowworm named Arachnocampa luminosa. Apart from it, other insects seen here include albino cave ants, giant crickets, and other species of glowworms.
The walls of the caves are covered with various fungi including the cave flower which is a mushroom-like fungus. There are several underwater lakes, made by freshwater creeks or brooks.
Visit to Waitomo Glowworm Caves
The tour to the Glowworm Cave brings the visitors through 3 different levels, joined by the Tomo which is a 16 meter vertical shaft made of limestone. You will start visiting the cave from the top level of the cave and the Catacombs. The second level, known as the Banquet Chamber, is the place where the tourists stopped to eat. The final level descends into the Cathedral, the demonstration platform and the jetty.
The Aranui Cave, located 3 kilometers from the Glowworm Cave is an additional benefit for the visitors. The wonderfully delicate formations create a majestic place for quiet contemplation and a time to reflect on the surprises of Nature.
Things to do
The climax of the captivating tour is the fascinating boat ride through the Glowworm Grotto. The journey takes you into the underground Waitomo River where the only light comes from the tiny glowworms generating a sky of living lights. For the adventure-lovers, black-water rafting is an absolute must and if that is not also enough, go for rock climbing and abseiling.
Where to stay
Waitomo offers a wide range of accommodation options for the visitors. Starting from the arresting splendor of the turn-of-the-century Waitomo Caves Hotel to the pure comforts of the Kiwipaka YHA for backpackers, there is something to suit all tastes, moods and budgets. Some of the popular places to reside near Waitomo Glowworm Caves of North Island are Abseil Inn, Juno Hall Backpackers, Kamahi Cottage, Waitomo Caves Guest Lodge, Woodlyn Park - Unique Accommodation.
Discover the ancient underground labyrinth of limestone caves and grottos and experience natural history during your memorable trip to Waitomo Glowworm Caves.v