It’s no secret that Waitomo is one of the most adventurous spots on New Zealand’s North Island. From epic underwater caving in the Glowworm Caves, black water rafting and abseiling, there’s no shortage of activities for thrill-seekers.
For those of you who are looking for a slightly more relaxing experience, or perhaps if you want a break from being below the ground, it might come as a surprise that Waitomo is also home to some of the North Island’s best hikes. Discover this lush part of the world on one of our recommended Waitomo walks.
Waitomo Great Walk
First up, why not try the Waitomo Great Walk, a hike that lasts two to three days depending on how long you want to spend. With over 40kms of easy gradients but varied terrain, this hike is suitable for every ability. The hike through Tawarau Forest is home to some of New Zealand’s most gorgeous waterfalls including Tawarau Falls and Marokopa Falls, both of which you’ll pass on your journey, so be sure to take a bit of time out to soak up the atmosphere. Aside from the waterfalls, walking through the forest is a spectacular experience: marvel at the limestone bluffs, forested hills and farmland before reaching the Waipuna Bridge. From here, follow the Waitomo Stream back down to the Waitomo Caves Village.
Along the trail, there is a number of different accommodation options, whether you plan on staying one, two or three nights.
Dundle Hill Walk
Up next is the Dundle Hill Walk, which requires a medium level of fitness due to the high climb to Kay’s Cabin, the accommodation offered en route. This 27km-long adventure showcases the wonderful Waitomo landscape, taking you along trails that lead you through limestone formations, native bush and unique forestry.
This two day walk is broken down into three stages: The Waitomo Walkway, the first section, takes you from Waitomo Village to the Ruakuri Bush Reserve. The second section, The Ruakuri Bush Walk, takes you via the remarkable Aranui Cave which is full of fascinating stalagmites and stalactites, and the Ruakuri Natural Tunnel which is a place of strong cultural significance to the Maori people. The final section of this walk – The Walk to Kay’s Cabin- leads you to your accommodation for the night, before you can set off the next day back along the Waitomo Stream to the Reserve, which is the end of your walk.
For a slightly shorter track than our previous suggestions, why not try the six-hour
Pehitawa Track. Largely through farmland and bush, this 16.5kms is known for having steep climbs: 150 metre ascents and descents will get the adrenaline pumping.
Starting in Waitomo Village, after a kilometre you’ll be walking across open farmland (follow the orange markers!). Continue up and down through bushland and along streams towards Te Kuiti, whilst making sure you stop off along the way for some lunch with the friendly local backpackers.
Tawarau Falls Loop Track
For a selection of shorter tracks, head a little further afield. Similar to the Waitomo Great Walk, the
Tawarau Falls Loop Track takes you through the beautiful landscape of Tawarrau Falls, but takes just two-three hours to complete. You can easily extend this expedition to five and a half hours if you combine it with the Double Falls Track. The Double Falls Track takes you to a stunning array of secluded falls. Don’t forget to also check out the giant oyster fossils in the limestone outcrop if you take the Appletree Road route, which takes two hours. Alternatively you can start at Were Road and walk along the Gorge track, which takes three and a half hours.
From native forests, limestone formations, networks of glowworms and natural bridges, Waitomo is a magical place both underground and overground. Make sure you and your party experience this enchanting part of the world with a Waitomo walk, whether you’re looking to spend a day, two or even three on your excursion.