Discover Waitomo News


Visit this page to stay informed with what has been happening in Waitomo.


28 May 2013

thl is happy to announce that two of its Waitomo based operations The Legendary Black Water Rafting and Ruakuri Cave tours have received the TripAdvisor and second time running respectively. The accolade, which honors hospitality excellence, is given only to establishments that consistently achieve outstanding traveler reviews on TripAdvisor, and is extended to qualifying businesses worldwide. Only the top-performing 10 percent of businesses listed on TripAdvisor receive this prestigious award.

To qualify for a Certificate of Excellence, businesses must maintain an overall rating of four or higher, out of a possible five, as reviewed by travelers on TripAdvisor, and must have been listed on TripAdvisor for at least 12 months. Additional criteria include the volume of reviews received within the last 12 months.

"Our Waitomo based operations are pleased to receive a TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence," said Stuart Foster, Brand Experience Manager at thl. "We strive to offer our customers a memorable experience when they visit the Waitomo caves, and this accolade is evidence that our hard work is translating into positive reviews on TripAdvisor."

"TripAdvisor is delighted to celebrate the success of businesses around the globe, from Sydney to Chicago, Sao Paulo to Rome, which are consistently offering TripAdvisor travelers a great customer experience," said Alison Copus, Vice President of Marketing for TripAdvisor for Business. "The Certificate of Excellence award provides top performing establishments around the world the recognition they deserve, based on feedback from those who matter most – their customers."

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Face your fears on the extreme Black Odyssey adventure

25 October 2012

Black Odyssey, a world first in technical caving adventures launches on December 1 with The Legendary Black Water Rafting Company, part of Tourism Holdings Ltd (thl).

For the first time ever, adrenaline junkies and those looking for an extreme challenge can push themselves to new heights with this dry caving experience. Different technical caving techniques are used to complete this underground journey that will test your limits.

The Black Odyssey is a four hour adventure led by expert guides from The Legendary Black Water Rafting Company who have over 25 years of caving experience, taking travellers through some of the most hidden parts of the extraordinary Ruakuri Cave.

Travellers will get to face their fears with extreme traversing and mind-blowing heights as they edge across bridges elevated above roaring streams, spider-walk through ancient rift passages and challenge themselves with technical high rope work, abseiling and flying foxes.

Tourism Holdings Limited (thl) CEO, Grant Webster, says Black Odyssey is a welcome addition to the established portfolio of tours offered by The Legendary Black Water Rafting Company.

“Waitomo has long been a must-visit destination for both national and international travellers thanks to the quality of activities on offer like our world renowned The Legendary Black Water Rafting Co and Waitomo Glowworm Caves tours.

“We are confident the Black Odyssey will appeal to both local and international travellers and I look forward to seeing visitors enjoying this fantastic new extreme caving adventure.” says Grant Webster.

The Black Odyssey will be competitively priced at $175 per person, with tours running twice daily at 9am and 2pm.

The Legendary Black Water Rafting Company also offers the original in black water rafting, the Black Labyrinth and the big caving adventure Black Abyss, complete with abseils, flying fox and tubing.



Waitomo Scoops Highest Architectural Accolade

21 May 2011

Three of the Best 

The Waitomo Glowworm Caves Visitor Centre has just scooped New Zealand architecture’s most coveted prize – The New Zealand Architecture Medal.

The medal, presented on the 20th May 2011 by the New Zealand Institute of Architects (NZIA), recognises excellence in architecture from all categories and the judging panel included an international expert. The prestigious win was announced at the NZ Architecture Awards Gala Dinner, held in Auckland.

The New Zealand Architecture Medal follows on from a string of awards the Visitor Centre has won recently at the NZ Wood Timber Design Awards. These included Commercial Architectural Excellence, Commercial Engineering Excellence and the Clever Wood Solution Award.

Designed by Christopher Kelly from the Architecture Workshop, the new Waitomo Glowworm Caves Visitor Centre was designed to reflect the curve in the Waitomo River and the contours of the land.

The structure showcases the collaboration between a number of New Zealand building and componentary suppliers and uses advanced digital technology in the construction process.

thl CEO Grant Webster, says “We’re thrilled! Taking home the medal is just the icing on the cake, it’s great for the Waitomo region.

thl, Ruapuha-Uekaha Hapu Trust, Department of Conservation and architect Christopher Kelly worked together to ensure the end result was a structure that reflects the local culture and landscape using sustainable but durable materials.

“Winning an award like this just makes the effort all the more worthwhile.”

For further information about the New Zealand Architecture Awards visit



Glowworms create Waitomo dream for Katy Perry

10 May 2011

Three of the Best 
Pop sensation and California Girl Katy Perry was mesmerised by the beauty of New Zealand’s underworld yesterday during her time in the Waitomo region.

The singer kept her adrenaline pumping between shows, abseiling 35 metres into the Black Abyss of Waitomo’s Ruakuri Cave with the team from The Legendary Black Water Rafting Company.

The glowworm studded ceilings and enchanting waterfalls had the singer spellbound during the Black Abyss tour with Perry tweeting afterwards, “I just survived the Black Abyss and saw glowworms! I Love New Zealand, it’s beautiful!

Discover Waitomo Brand Manager, Liz Lindsay says, “Waitomo is a great destination for any traveller whether you’re after an adrenaline rush or a magical tour of the caves. We’re thrilled that Katy Perry has had an unforgettable and enjoyable experience.

After performing two sold out shows at Auckland’s Vector Arena, Katy Perry will perform her final New Zealand show tonight in Wellington.

The Black Abyss tour is the ultimate black water rafting adventure in Waitomo with abseiling, flying fox, water fall climbs and cave tubing packed into a thrilling five hour expedition.



AA - 101 Must-Do's for Kiwis is back!

1 December 2010

We love that 101 Must Dos for Kiwis is back! We think it’s great that New Zealanders are so passionate about their country. The magical Waitomo region is back on the list for Caving this year. If you love the Waitomo Glowworm Caves, Ruakuri Cave, Aranui Cave, Black Abyss and Black Labyrinth as much as we do. 

So vote now and make Waitomo one of the 101 Must Do’s.

Waitomo Glowworm Caves, Ruakuri Cave and Aranui Cave

You will find this magical underground world both eerie and captivating. Waitomo is the gateway to a dark, subterranean world of limestone formations and a galaxy of living lights hidden below the green paddocks of the King Country.

At Waitomo Glowworm Caves float silently under thousands of magical glowworms. Climb down into an underground network of caves and passages dripping with pristine crystal formations - limestone curtains, stalactite and stalagmites, flowstones and crystal tapestries. Our tour guides draw you into this awesome environment, sharing natural history and cultural legends.

Don’t forget to visit Ruakuri Cave and Aranui Cave for a more personal experience up close to these spectacular and delicate formations.

The Legendary Black Water Rafting Co.

For the more adventurous there’s The Legendary Black Water Rafting. Descend into the black seemingly bottomless depths of the stunning glowworm studded Ruakuri Cave. These adrenaline pumping tours will have you abseiling, tubing, rock-climbing and leaping off ledges into the underground river.

Our guides support and encourage you through the whole breathtaking experience. Choose from either the Black Labyrinth or Black Abyss tours.

New Iconic Waitomo Glowworm Caves Visitor Centre

Not only are there world class caves in Waitomo, but now there is a world class facility for visitors from around the world to enjoy. Marvel at the exhibition space, take in a brief short film about the history of the caves, buy some true kiwiana from the gift shop or stop by for lunch at the new restaurant.



Christmas in the Caves!

26 November 2010

Waitomo Caves Choir presents Christmas in the Caves.

Join us for a special fund-raising performance of Christmas music ranging from classical to traditional.

Come and join us in what has become a local Waitomo Village tradition at Christmas time. Conjure up the true feeling of this magical time of year with the glow of candlelight and under the crystal formations of the Glowworm Cave Cathedral.

Listen to the voices of the Caves Choir ringing out and filling the Cathedral with the sounds of Christmas. A visitor who returns annually says, “It is an experience never to be forgotten.”

Float out by boat through the Grotto under myriads of glowworm lights to a Christmas champagne supper.

8pm, Saturday, 18th December 2010, Waitomo Glowworm Cave Cathedral

$100 per person - Limited tickets

To book ring Waitomo iSite 07 878 7640




21 October 2010

The doors are now open at the stunning new Waitomo Glowworm Caves Visitor Centre marking a new beginning for this iconic Kiwi destination.

The original centre was devastated in a fire in 2005 and since then thl, the Ruapuha Uekaha Hapu Trust (the Hapu) and the Department of Conservation (DOC) have worked together to create a centre that reflects the local culture and the environment.

thl CEO Grant Webster says, “We are very excited to have the Waitomo Glowworm Caves Visitor Centre open to the public and for visitors in the area to be able to enjoy this spectacular new building.

“We hope this multi-million dollar complex will become an iconic New Zealand tourist attraction in its own right. The Waitomo Glowworm Caves provides a uniquely New Zealand experience and we believe this complex will greatly enhance visitors’ experience at Waitomo.

thl has invested significantly into this iconic tourism centre which will be the first of its kind on this side of the globe, and promises to deliver an even more exceptional experience to our customers.”

The design reflects the weaved shape of a ‘hinake’ (eel catcher) and the association that the local people have with eeling near the caves. The Hapu has been strongly involved in the design of the building and descendants of Tanetinorau, the Maori Chief who first explored the Caves in 1887, still guide visitors through the Caves today.

A Maori Poupou, which was first carved in 1987, now stands renewed at the entrance to the Waitomo Glowworm Caves Visitor Centre. It depicts Tane Mahuta, the God of the forest, guardian of the caves and their inhabitants.

The Waitomo Glowworm Caves Visitor Centre has been designed to create a minimal intervention environmental building that provides a lightweight canopy. The top structure canopy follows the curve of the Waitomo stream while the base of the building reflects the contours of the land.

Christopher Kelly, Architecture Workshop says,, "The canopy gridshell of the Waitomo Glowworm Caves Visitor Centre follows the curve of the Waitomo stream. It reinforces the idea for this project of a simple lightweight 'sky shell' to contrast the subterranean cave space that is moulded out of the ground. The innovative use of New Zealand Radiata pine for the grid shell structure in combination with the transparent cladding of the canopy is internationally significant.”

The new building offers a variety of facilities and experiences to Waitomo visitors. A restaurant spanning two levels seats up to 250 customers and includes exclusive dining area for groups. There is also a 50 seat café. Added extras include an Exhibition space, which is currently exhibiting “Building an Icon” around the creation of this new Visitor Centre and a Theatre where viewers are taken on an emotionally connecting journey with a wonderful introduction to the people of Waitomo through a short film created by thedownlowconcept. A Gift Shop offers a large variety of high quality gifts and souvenirs including a Kiwi gallery featuring local artists.

The complex serves as a fabulous access point to the stunning Waitomo Glowworm Caves experience – including the boat ride under a starry sky of glowworms and a tour through limestone caves that have been created over millions of years. Waitomo offers other exciting attractions in the area – the spectacular and unique Ruakuri Cave with its innovative spiral entrance and glowworms up close and Aranui Cave with its stunning cave formations makes for an exceptional experience. For the more adventurous, The Legendary Black Water Rafting Company offers the Black Abyss, the ultimate adrenalin pumping caving adventure and the original subterranean adventure with Black Labyrinth.

The Waitomo Glowworm Caves Visitor Centre has just recently won its first accolades at the NZ Wood Timber Design Awards 2010

The Waitomo Glowworm Caves Visitor Centre won three of the top awards at the ceremony on 12 October – the start of many more awards to come.

  • Commercial Architectural Excellence: For innovative use of timber resulting in a distinctive visual impact of a commercial, industrial, or public building environment
  • Commercial Engineering Excellence: For innovative use of timber resulting in a distinctive technical/structural impact on a commercial, industrial, or public building environment
  • Clever Wood Solution Award: For innovative solutions to technical structural or performance based challenges

“We look forward to sharing the new centre with Kiwis and international visitors alike and encourage those in the area to come and experience all that Waitomo Glowworm Caves now has to offer,” says Grant Webster.