What to Do and See in Waitomo Glowworm Caves

Located on the North Island of New Zealand, the Waitomo Glowworm Caves is an attraction well-known for its population of glowworms. The glowworm that lives in the Waitomo Caves is unique to New Zealand and thousands of these tiny creatures radiate their unmistakable luminescent light against the cave walls.

Hidden beneath the rolling green countryside of the Waikato region, Waitomo is all about the caves. This is a subterranean environment like no other, with adventure activities to match. You can choose the countless adventures offered at the Waitomo Caves ranging from idyllic underground boat rides through to awesome adrenalin fests. Board the cruise or walk through mysterious caves, lit up by nothing but glowworms, or climb, abseil and black-water raft down underground tunnels and streams.

No matter which activity you choose, you’ll have an unforgettable adventure experience. Here we’ve listed some of the things you can see and do in Waitomo Glowworm Caves to help you get the most out of this unique spot.

1.Guided Cave Tours

Discover more about the historical and geological significance of the Waitomo Caves as your expert guide leads you through this magical place. Take a boat ride and glide silently through the starry wonderland of the Glowworm Grotto. Meander underground along the Waitomo River and gaze in silence at the myriad of glow-worm lights that make up the Glowworm Grotto. Be fascinated and intrigued by tiny glowworms that light your way within a serene ambience.

There are two additional caves you can choose to explore – Aranui Cave and Ruakuri Cave. Aranui Cave is the smallest and most delicate of Waitomo’s three main caves. As a dry cave without a river running through it, it houses very little life past its entrance. However, just inside the entrance is a colony of native New Zealand cave wetas and further into the cave is the most beautiful collection of stalactites, stalagmites, flowstones and decorative formations. Ruakuri Cave is New Zealand’s longest guided underground walking tour and an experience that must be seen to be believed.

2.Black rafting in the Ruakuri Caves

Join experienced guides who’ll take you safely deep underground as you abseil, weave, jump, climb and float through a glowworm-studded subterranean wonderland at the Waitomo Caves. Choose either the original 3-hour Black Labyrinth tour or step it up a gear with the 5-hour Black Abyss adventure.

On the Black Labyrinth tour, you’ll grab some rubber tubes to commence your unreal adventure, floating down an underground river while admiring the glowworm displays above. You’ll cave, walk, tube and even jump into a cascading underground waterfall, all in a small group with a maximum of 12 people.

For more intense thrill-seekers, the Black Abyss tour is the most comprehensive caving experience possible, featuring an underground flying fox and waterfall climbs. In a group with no more than 8 people, you’ll abseil 35 metres, cave, walk, tube, jump, fly, climb and jump through the Ruakuri Caves. Test yourself on this ultimate caving adventure, all the while being accompanied by expert guides. After you’re all done pushing yourself to your limits, warm up with a hot shower and treat yourself to some complimentary hot soup on bagels.

3.Cave Tours and Skyline Gondola Combo

Apart from the cave tours mentioned above, you can also take the Skyline Gondola to the Mount Ngongotaha. From here you’ll have stunning panoramic views over Rotorua’s main centre. Following your gondola experience, you will arrive at Te Puia where you will be introduced to Māori culture and traditions at a Māori Concert. Surrounded by carvings of the ancestors, you’ll be treated to beautiful harmonies, poi dance, the famous haka (war dance), and tititorea (stick dance). Inside the Maori Arts and Crafts Institute, you will be guided to meet master weavers and carvers who are passing on their skills.

Getting there

It is the best and quickest way to arrive at Waitomo with your own vehicle, which also means you can easily explore the surrounding area. Free parking is available next to the Waitomo Caves Visitor Centre and Legendary Black Water Rafting Co.

You can also choose to take the coach of Great Sights and Gray Line to arrive at Waitomo. The two suppliers offer departures both from Auckland and Rotorua, which makes your tour stress-free and easier. For more convenience, we recommend you select the tours with hotel transfers.

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