They took over 30 million years to form, but luckily you don’t need quite that long to get the most out of the Waitomo caves – a day will probably do…
The caves are most famous for the Glowworm Grotto, an underground cavern illuminated only by the light of thousands of tiny glowworms hanging from the ceiling. Resembling nothing so much as looking up at a starry night sky, this is one of those unique ‘only in New Zealand’ experiences that features highly on every list of top things to do in New Zealand.
Gazing rapturously at glowing insects isn’t the only option in the Waitomo caves, however.
If you like your underground action a little more intense, three and five hour Waitomo black water rafting tours are available for the more adventurous. Rappel down nearly 40m, ride inner tubes on an underground river, view the glowworms, scramble up waterfalls and still get home in time for dinner.
Just another day in paradise.
Getting to Waitomo is relatively straightforward, with several major towns and cities within a 2-3 hour drive. Public transport options are limited, however, so rental vehicles, day trips or hop-on, hop-off bus tours are probably the best ways to travel to the caves.
Best time to visit: There isn’t really a specific time that is best to visit the caves, although as visitor numbers are limited turning up outside the peak summer holiday months means a higher chance of being able to get into the caves at your preferred time.
How long to spend there: 4-6 hours is enough to enjoy the attractions of the Waitomo caves, depending on which tour options you decide are best for you.
Things to know: A moderate degree of fitness is required for the longer rafting tour and it is not suitable for children. The shorter rafting trip and the glowworm-only tour are fine for most people, however.