Cave-tivating adventures, glow-tastic boat rides, and weta-ly awesome formations await!
Located in the Waikato region of New Zealand’s North Island, the Waitomo Caves are a magical underground world that has captivated visitors from around the globe for generations.
The stunning limestone caves are famous for their unique glowworms, underground rivers, and breathtaking formations, making them a must-see attraction for anyone visiting New Zealand.
Whether you’re looking for adventure, natural beauty, or cultural significance, the Waitomo Caves have something for everyone to explore, view and to get adventurous.
In this list, we’ll explore the top things to see and do at Waitomo Caves and why they are great. So get ready to be awed by the wonders beneath the earth’s surface!
Here are some of the best things to see and do in Waitomo Caves:
- Take a boat ride through the Glowworm Grotto: This is the most popular activity at Waitomo Caves, where you’ll board a small boat and drift silently through an underground cave illuminated by thousands of glowworms. It’s a magical experience that makes you feel like you are floating among the stars.
- Go on an adrenaline-pumping Black Water Rafting adventure: This is a thrilling activity where you’ll float down an underground river on an inflatable tube, wearing a wetsuit and headlamp. You’ll jump off waterfalls, float through rapids, and see glowworms up close.
- Take a walking tour of the Aranui Cave: This cave is known for its unique formations, including a large colony of cave wetas (insects) and an impressive array of stalactites and stalagmites.
- Experience the epic Waitomo Lost World: This is a challenging yet rewarding activity for the adventurous. You’ll abseil (rappel) 100 meters down into the darkness of the Lost World cave before exploring the underground rivers and stunning caverns.
- Explore the Ruakuri Cave: This is the longest underground guided walking tour in Waitomo Caves, where you’ll see stunning limestone formations, underground waterfalls, and a fantastic spiral entrance. The Ruakuri Cave is also home to some of New Zealand’s rarest cave-dwelling creatures.
- Discover the Mangapohue Natural Bridge: This natural limestone arch is located outside the Waitomo Caves area but is worth a visit. You can walk through the forest to reach the bridge, a popular spot for photos.
Did you know?
One interesting fact about Waitomo Caves is that the limestone formations found inside the caves were formed over millions of years from the fossilized remains of tiny sea creatures.
The limestone was once part of the ocean floor, and the fossils gradually accumulated to form the porous rock we see today. This process is known as biogenic limestone formation, and it’s one of the reasons why the Waitomo Caves are so unique and fascinating.
A little history:
The Waitomo Caves have a geological history that dates back thousands of years. The caves are significant to the Maori, who have been associated with the area for centuries.
According to Maori legend, the caves were formed by the god of the underworld, who used his magic powers to create underground passages and caverns. The Maori have traditionally used the caves for burials and as a source of fresh water.
Europeans first explored the caves in 1887, when local Maori chief Tane Tinorau and English surveyor Fred Mace discovered the underground river system that flows through the caves. Tinorau became the first official guide of the caves, leading visitors through the narrow passages by candlelight.
Over the years, the caves have become a popular tourist attraction, with visitors worldwide seeing the unique limestone formations and the famous glowworms.
These days, The Waitomo Caves are a protected area, and access is carefully managed to preserve the delicate ecosystem inside the caves.
Instagram Images @waitomocaves