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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Where to stay in Waitomo District

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Waitomo Big Bird B&B & Petting Farm

Welcome to our world, a 70-acre lifestyle farmstay. Enjoy an intriguing, interactive and memorable New Zealand farm experience with our ostriches and 20+ miniature animals. . . . More . . . 

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Kawhia Camping Ground

A camping ground to relax in. Beware Kawhia's laid back ambiance is easy to get caught up in. Kawhia Camping Ground is a quiet camp . . . More . . . 

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4.5 /5
From $42
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Waitomo TOP 10 Holiday Park

"Best location, best facilities." Walk to the glowworm cave, restaurants, museum, store, adventure activities, bushwalks, or stay at the park and relax, read, swim in . . . More . . . 

From $42

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YHA Waitomo Juno Hall

Come and relax at our modern 40-bed hostel, situated on our farm, 1km away from Waitomo Village. With stunning views and native forest as your . . . More . . .