New Zealand is a beautiful country filled world-renowned scenery and adventure. Some of the most commonly requested experiences by travellers are all available within the small area of Waitomo! Check out all of the New Zealand must-dos you can tick off your list with a visit to this special place!
Nothing is more magical than experiencing a cave filled with luminescent glowworms. In Waitomo, these little guys put on a display like nothing you have ever seen before, lining the interior of the caves with their magnificent blueish/green light. Glowworms are the larval stage of an insect which then move on to become pupa and finally grow to adult flies which lay more eggs to glow in the future! The Waitomo caves are literally the perfect location for these little guys, they’re damp, dark and wet. As a result of this, these caves are home to thousands of glowworms making them the best place to see them in full force. Whether you’re visiting for a long while or a little while, the Waitomo Glowworm Caves are a must see for anyone looking to see what makes New Zealand such a unique travel destination. You can find out more about the glowworm caves here.
Visiting a place Significant to Maori:
The caves in Waitomo are considered Tapu (sacred) by Maori with a huge amount of historical significance. Descendants of the Maori Chief who originally explored these caves, Tane Tinorau, still guide the tours through these caves today. During a tour, you will learn about ancient Maori myths and legends, as well as visiting sacred Maori sites. The man-made entrance to Ruakuri cave was actually built because the original entrance is a sacred burial ground. You can learn more about the caves here.
There’s also plenty of above ground destinations around Waitomo you can visit which hold significance to the Maori culture. The Opapaka pā (pā meaning village or defensive settlement) walk allows you to navigate through native forest to the site of a small defensive pā used by Ngati Hia, a Maori tribe in the eighteenth century. You can check out this walk here.
Seeing native birds:
For the ultimate New Zealand experience, you’re going to want to see why we call ourselves Kiwis! The Otorohanga Kiwi house is just 15 minutes from Waitomo and allows you to see the notoriously hard to spot Kiwi at any time of the day. This place is also home to New Zealand’s largest free-flight dome aviary housing over 15 native birds. They have some of the rarest native birds, for example, the Pateke (48cm), the Blue Duck or Whio (53cm), and the New Zealand Falcon (47cm) which are all endangered. You can’t overlook this place if you’re looking to see the unique New Zealand wildlife, it even houses native reptiles! You can find out more information about it here.
Going for a walk, hike or tramp:
Scattered around Waitomo are a variety of walks sure to fit any level of adventure. Whether you’re looking to spend hours admiring limestone formations or take a 10-minute stroll to one of New Zealand’s most beautiful waterfalls, this place has it all. The Ruakuri bush walk (30 minutes) and the Mangapohue natural bridge walk (25 minutes) are just a couple of the amazing scenic walks in this special place. Come and witness for yourself the magic of traversing through native New Zealand bush and see all that Waitomo has to offer! Find a list of Waitomo’s best walks here.