Waitomo Glowworm Caves © Corin Walker Bain

Waitomo Glowworm Caves: a cave wall aglow with lights

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These little guys are crazy.

Slipping down the Waitomo River in a boat, in the dark (of course!), then peering up to see a cave wall aglow with lights? There’s not much that can beat that.

This part of the country is festooned with limestone caves, but it is the Glowworm Cave that has been an international attraction for over a hundred years. When English surveyor Fred Mace was first shown the caves in the late 1800s he must’ve just about dropped his monocle. They are stunning, an almost indescribable delight. You’re pitching along in the water, thinking whatever, and then, as your eyes adjust to the dark you’ll say, well, something unprintable, likely. Because the whole ceiling is lit up like the night sky with these little guys. Everywhere.

Yep, there are glowworms in other caves, both in the region and around the country. But the conditions here at the Waitomo Cave are near perfect for the cultivation of the species and they take to the conditions like, um, worms to walls.

Once you’ve blown your mind with that experience and because we know some of you may find a gentle rowboat a bit genteel, you’ll be amped to know you can abseil, black-water raft and tube through the caves, if that’s your thing.

There’s heaps to do in and around the caves as well; check it all at the well-appointed visitors’ centre and get into it.

And if you want to know the glowworms’ real name? Fred. Sorry. Arachnocampa luminosa. Always good to get a bit of Latin lighting up your day.

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