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Waitomo Glowworm Caves

glowworm-caves-entrance2Glowworm Cave is part of the Waitomo Caves system, which includes the Ruakuri Cave and the Aranui Cave as well. Glowworm Cave is known for its population of glowworms.


Glowworm Cave is located in the southern Waikato region, in the North Island, New Zealand. The cave is at about 2 hours (drive) south of Auckland.

How to get to Waitomo Glowworm Caves

If you prefer to drive a rented car, you need to exit State Highway 3 onto Waitomo Caves Road and drive for about 8 km / 5 mile.

Numerous tour buses and shuttles also provide transportation to the caves.

What are glowworms?

Glowworm is a common name for different groups of insect larva and adult females which glow in the dark ( in yellow-green color). They might look like worms but they are actually insects. The type of glowworms which live in this cave can only be found in New Zealand and Australia.

Glowworm Caves Tour

glowwormsThe tour taxes about 45 minutes in which you’ll glide on the Waitomo River, on a boat, being marveled by the natural light. The tour stats in the Cathedral, which has world-renown acoustics (many singers sung here and were astonished by the purity of the sound). From the upper entrance you’ll go through a Tomo (a vertical shaft made of limestone).

Tours start each day at 9 AM. The ticket price is NZ$35 for an adult and NZ$15 for a child (booking online saves you 10%). Don’t forget to bring comfortable shoes and a warm jacket.

What else to do

Waitomo is actually a small town offering some other things to do than just taking a tour of the caves.

The area is also popular for blackwater rafting. This type of rafting is a unique tubing experience. The tourists go underground with a professional tour guide and a rubber tube. Again, you’ll be able to see the glowworms and explore the cave.

If you prefer to venture on the ground, there are Horse Riding Treks. Tours are available for any person and can take from an hour to three days.

If you prefer the ATVs, you can take one of the guided tours and explore the spectacular farmland.

Waitomo Museum of Caves offers information on the caves and includes magnificent displays. The museum is also the official information center, so here you can book any tour you want, as well as check for accommodation and transport in the area.

Fancy a free adventure? No problem. Take the Waitomo Walkway and hike in the beautiful landscape. The hike takes about 3 hours and the last part of it is the most spectacular (the glowworms are visible at night). The Ruakuri Natural Bridge is one of the most popular short walks in New Zealand. It takes 45 minutes to complete the loop walk and if you visit by night you can see the glowworms.