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Waitomo Glowworm Caves

Waitomo Glowworm Caves Admission and Guided Tour

Help code: D2B-1BCD

(4.7)

3 reviews
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  • Spectacular cave network
  • Thousands of glow worms
  • Tour approx. 45 minutes long
  • Amazing cave boat trip
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What you need to know
Reviews (3)
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Location

Witness the awe-inspiring natural beauty of the Rotorua region's famed glow worm caves at Waitomo with a selection of great value sightseeing tours. Combining the wonder of a spectacular cave network with the delicate beauty of the glow worms themselves as they illuminate its ceilings and walls, the Waitomo glow worm caves are a unique destination that's not to be missed!

Featuring an array of awe-inspiring limestone formations that have to be seen to be believed, the roof and walls are teeming with various colours that range from browns to pinks to whites, while the thousands of tiny lights in the famous "glow worm grotto" complete an atmosphere that is both enchanting and visually enticing. Simply choose your preferred option from the available Waitomo glow worm tours below to explore this spectacular natural gift in the Rotorua region of New Zealand online today!

Inclusions

  • Informative commentary
  • Entry into the Waitomo Glowworm Caves
  • Boat tour through the Glowworm Grotto

Highlights

  • Meander underground along the Waitomo River and gaze in silence at the myriad of glow worm lights that make up the Glowworm Grotto
  • Over 250 metres of stunning underground scenery commencing with the impressive Cathedral. The acoustics in this particular cavern are world-renowned
  • The highlight of your tour is an unrivalled boat trip through the spectacular Glowworm Grotto.

Two Cave Levels

The Cathedral

  • The Cathedral is on the lower level of the Waitomo Glowworm Caves and, at 18 metres in height, this is the largest cavern. It is world-renowned for its superb acoustics, which are due to the enclosed shape and rough surface. Many famous singers and choirs have performed here and have been delighted with the purity of the sound.

The Tomo

  • The Tomo is one of the wonders of Waitomo, it is a 16 metre vertical limestone shaft which marks the course of an ancient waterfall which today on flows during heavy rains. The dramatic vertical drop is carefully lighted to show the scalloped walls and the layers of limestone. The Tomo was the last feature of the cave to be formed and links the upper level to the Waitomo River below.

Times and Location

  • Tours depart from 9am-5pm daily
  • Open from 9am daily, 365 days a year
  • Summer Hours: 9.00am - 5.30pm (End of October to Easter Monday)
  • Winter Hours: 9.00am - 5.00pm
  • As tours depart every 30 minutes, please just turn up on the day with your voucher and you will be able to then attend the next tour time
  • Just over 2 hours south of Auckland, 1 hour south of Hamilton, and 2 hours west of Rotorua. The Waitomo Glowworm Caves are situated 8km along Waitomo Caves Road, off State Highway 3
  • Tour is approximately 45 minutes in duration

Facilities

  • Restaurant
  • Cafe
  • Exhibition Space
  • Theatre and Gift Shop

What to Bring

  • Bring comfortable walking shoes and a warm jacket

Additional Information

  • Waitomo Glowworm Caves do not have wheelchair access
  • Please do not touch formations. Stalactites and stalagmites take a long time to form. They are easily discoloured by people touching them and the more fragile formations can break. Please help us protect the beauty of the cave.
  • To protect the cave atmosphere and for the enjoyment and consideration of others, we ask that you do not smoke in the cave.
  • All photography is strictly forbidden. This includes non-flash photography and video.
  • Keep quiet at all times, especially in the boat and on the jetties.

Booking Information

  • Confirmation in the form of a tour voucher will be received at time of booking
  • Upon completion of purchase, please print the voucher and present on day of the experience.
  • For your information, complete Tour Operator Information including contact details is included on your tour voucher
The tour of the caves was well organised and the guides were friendly
Nicole Michel 1 year ago

The tour of the caves was well organised and the guides were friendly, knowledgeable and humorous. The caves were easy to navigate and the guide pointed out interesting features as we went through. The glowworm section was stunning, like being under a galaxy. I would have liked that part of the tour to be a little longer (although they say to allow 45 mins for the tour overall, that part was only a few minutes). It would also have been better if the group size was a little smaller as it was sometimes difficult to see some of the cave features being pointed out. Overall a worthwhile experience and worth the entry fee.

This was an incredible experience
Brittney 2 years ago

This was an incredible experience! I really enjoyed the tour as we were guided through the caves, taught about glowworms and cave, and even given a demonstration with the acoustics of the cave. The glowworms were mesmerising and floating past them in the boat in compete silence was an experience unlike any other. The only downside is the length of the tour, I wish it could have kept going! I'll definitely be exploring the other caves if I go back.

These glowworm caves are truely outstanding
Michelle 2 years ago

These glowworm caves are truely outstanding!! The boat ride through the grotto is so beautiful, quiet and offers a really beautiful and peaceful experience to the overall tour. The caves themselves are just fascinating with all the stalactites and stalactites and they are really breathtaking!! An attraction definitely not to be missed if travelling the central North Island of New Zealand!

Waitomo Glowworm Caves Review

Mackenzie Burr

Experience Oz Travel Writer

New Zealand’s north island is a dynamic formation of natural attractions that litter the islands rolling landscape, with Auckland, Rotorua, and Taupo providing hubs from which to explore the northern end of the island, including Waitomo's famous caves' and it’s luminescent inhabitants.

On a recent trip to New Zealand, I was lucky enough to explore Waitomo’s most touted attraction, the Waitomo Glowworm Caves, generously illuminated by some of New Zealand’s very own glowworms.

The Waitomo Glowworm Caves are located just south of Hamilton, and a scenic three hours drive from Auckland’s city centre. We departed from our accommodation in Taupo, enjoying a two-hour journey through the heart of the island.

The caves also make for a comfortable day trip from Rotorua or Hamilton, and the sites extensive signage along with a large car park ensure you find your way with very little trouble.

We pre-booked our tickets well in advance and after a brief wait in line at the check-in window, we were all set to begin our 45-minute journey through Waitomo’s most iconic attraction.

Glow worm cave entrance

Highlights

  • Unique boat ride
  • Peaceful and informative tour

What you’ll do

Visitors Centre

The experience begins with some downtime at their unique visitor centre, complete with a restaurant and gift shop, along with toilets and a super convenient café in close proximity to the waiting area.

As with many New Zealand experiences, the rain was in full swing throughout the day, and my weathered raincoat was close at hand.

However, the centre’s impressive dome-like roof that spans across the entire premises, its geometry following the shape of the hillside and the curve of the Waitomo stream below, beautifully shelters the entire centre from the regions regular weather events.

Meet your guide

After a brief wait, we were greeted by our tour guide and led down a paved track to the caves' entrance, framed by dense New Zealand rainforest.

Our guide was a friendly Maori woman who had extensive knowledge of the region’s physiological and cultural history, a history that she and her ancestors shared through deep family ties.

She told us all about the area, how the caves came to be discovered, and what’s required in their on-going preservation.

The tours are carefully timed to ensure plenty of space for groups and the number of tours per day is closely managed based on the level of carbon dioxide present within the system.

Insulated from the external world, the caves’ environment is sensitive to man-made changes, with visitors affecting the heat, humidity, moisture and carbon dioxide levels present within the caves' walls. All visitors are asked not to touch the cave walls during their visit in an effort to help reduce the deterioration caused by high volumes of visitors each year.

All visitors are asked not to touch the cave walls during their visit in an effort to help reduce the deterioration caused by high volumes of visitors each year.

Monitoring the carbon dioxide concentration is especially important because it is crucial to the creation, or dissolution, of Waitomo’s awe-inspiring cave formations.

Learn about the cave and it’s endless features

Cave formations

The journey begins with a winding staircase where you’ll be able to take in the early sightings of glowworms, speckled within the caves numerous nooks and crannies.

The paved floors and guide rails are enough to settle any visitors who prefer museums to amusement parks, with a welcoming and safe environment provided throughout the experience.

Much like a museum, the cave has its very own sculptures on display. Known as stalagmites and stalactites, these formations are ancient features of the caves’ ever-changing geometry, with an isolated cluster of the incredible formations taking centre stage early in the tour.

Our excitable tour guide was able to name each formation in the display, along with some of the science behind their creation, and the painstakingly slow journey each has taken to reach its current form.

Test out the caves acoustics

Following the stalagmites and stalactites, we were ushered into a large opening within the cave system, almost like a naturally occurring exhibition hall.

After a failed attempt to coerce some volunteers, the tour guide performed a moving traditional song in the native Maori language, which beautifully demonstrated the incredible acoustic features of the cave’s immense walls.

The cave hosts a number of special concerts and events throughout the year, so be sure to keep your eye out for ticket sales during your visit to the region.

See glowworms feeding

Glow worm strands

Following the performance, we were led to a waist-high lookout, where we were invited to kneel down and view the glowworms in their larvae form, the only stage of a glowworms life at which it actually feeds.

The angle of the lookout (along with some helpful human lighting) reveals hundreds of sticky threads hanging from the cave ceiling, with dozens of these threads belonging to each individual glowworm.

The threads are an attempt to catch lost insects, which are hauled in once their struggles are detected through vibrations running up each thread.

Enjoy a boat ride under the cave’s makeshift stars

Glow worm strands

Up until now, the caves have been a well-lit experience, following paved floors and guided by helpful handrails, which provide safety in some of the caves more precarious locations.

However, following a slight descent to the caves own personal docks, this well-lit environment is slowly submerged in thick darkness, with little to no light piercing through to the caves incredible inner water systems.

Once aboard our boat, our guide pulled us silently along cables strung up between the caves' walls. We were slowly being transported across the still waters, beneath solid rock littered in thousands and thousands of glowworms, like clusters of stars speckled across the skies above.

The experience is over all-too-soon, as you’re reacquainted with the day’s light on your approach to the caves large river opening. After a short climb up the nearby embankment, we had made our way back to the visitor centre, and with it, to the end of our journey.

What’s included

  • Waitomo Glowworm Caves guided tour
  • Tranquil boat ride
  • Experienced Tour Guide
  • Cave access
  • Guaranteed glowworm sightings

What to bring

The vast majority of the trip is undercover (mostly by giant cave walls) so there’s no real need for a raincoat or umbrella.

You may get a little wet, but the cave is relatively clean and the floors are paved so there’s no need for specialised equipment. Just bring yourself and some temperature appropriate clothing.

My Recommendations

I would recommend this experience to adventurers both young and old, especially those who have always wanted to see the insides of a cave but would prefer the confinements of a safe and well-maintained environment from which to do so!

If you haven’t seen glowworms, and you’re intrigued to see them in their natural habitat, this is definitely one of the best experiences in the world to tick them off your bucket list.

Need help? Contact our friendly customer support service. 1300 935 532 enquiry@experienceoz.com.au Help Code: 1BCD

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