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 www.nzia.co.nz.
10 May 2011
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
WAITOMO GLOWWORM CAVES VISITOR CENTRE RISES FROM THE ASHES
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.