Why Discover The Waitomo Caves?
There are three caves that make up the Waitomo caves network, each with it's own unique experience.
Famous for their abundance of glow worms, extensive underground river system and stunning stalactite and stalagmites formations, a trip to the Waitomo caves is a trip to another world. Keep reading to find out why you should discover the Waitomo caves.
Three caves to choose from
Whilst in the Waitomo region you can explore three caves by foot; the Waitomo Glowworm Caves, Ruakuri Cave and Aranui Cave. Each cave is uniquely magical and comes with its own history and culture.
The Glowworm Caves are the most famous of the Waitomo caves, having been a tourist attraction for over 130 years. Wonder through the cave and marvel at its tallest chamber, the Cathedral, before embarking on a boat ride through the glow worm grotto. On the boat ride you’ll sit in silence (glow worms don’t like noise) and be able to take in the magical creatures lighting up the cave above.
Ruakuri Cave is the largest cave in the Waitomo area and was discovered between 400 and 500 years ago. Enter this wheelchair accessible cave through a spectacular man-made spiral entrance, which opens up onto an extensive system of limestone formations and crystal tapestries. Learn about the rock formations and see glow worms up close and personal.
And finally we have Aranui Cave. Although Aranui isn’t home to any glow worms, due to the absence of any water, it is home to some of the most spectacular pale brown, pink and white stalactites and stalagmites the Waitomo region has to offer. Everywhere you look in Aranui is adorned with fragile, sparkling formations, which create an enchanted and intimate experience.
With each cave being so different from one another it’s no surprise if you’re struggling to choose which one to visit. Worry not. With our multi-cave combos, you can visit two or three caves during your time in Waitomo at a discounted rate!
Something for everyone
With all three caves offering something uniquely different, and Black Water Rafting close by to cater for the adrenaline junkies, the Waitomo caves really do offer something for everyone. Whether this is your first trip to New Zealand and you’re looking to learn about the countries unique nature and history, you’re a parent who’s not visited Waitomo since you were a kid and want to bring your own children to see the sparkling glow worms, or you’re just looking to explore your own back yard a little more, Waitomo will not disappoint.
Ruakuri Cave is even the only wheelchair accessible cave in the southern hemisphere, so every member of the whanau can experience the magic of Waitomo.
It’s a weekend or day trip
Finding its home in the rural Waikato, people often assume Waitomo is further away than it is. Located only an hour from Hamilton, 2 hours from the Bay of Plenty, 2.5 hours from Auckland and 3 hours from Taranaki, Waitomo is the perfect distance for a day trip or weekend getaway.
If you decide to make a weekend of it, don’t forget to check out the Waitomo Homestead Cabins for quaint accommodation in close proximity to all the caves, and the Waitomo Homestead Restaurant for its famous $3 pies. There’s also numerous eateries, bars and bushwalks in the area to keep you entertained for hours.
Educational for the whole family
Everyone that comes to Waitomo will learn the history, geology and biology behind the land, caves and glowworms that the area is home to. For children, this offers a practical and extremely engaging learning experience that can’t be found in the classroom. They can learn what a glowworm is (spoiler alert; it’s not actually a worm), about the culture that surrounds the area, and about the plethora of ecology which makes up the Waitomo region.
Rich in history and culture
Waitomo is more than just caves and glowworms, it a cultural hub and rich in Maori history, myths and legends. On tours of each cave, you’ll learn about the history and origin story of the cave, and gain insights into what the past occupants of Waitomo went through to discover the cave, in a time before torches and electricity. Some of our cave guides are even descendants of Chief Tane Tinorau, the original explorer of the caves.
Sustainability and environment
We are proud to be both the commercial operator and kaitiaki of the Waitomo Glowworm Caves, Ruakuri Cave and Aranui Cave. These caves are a precious taonga to the Ruapuha Uekaha Hapū and Aotearoa New Zealand, and with great privilege comes great responsibility.
We are as such committed to upholding the Tiaki Promise, which is a commitment to care for New Zealand’s people and places, for current and future generations. As kaitiaki of a unique cave and karst landscape, our care is world-leading and consists of planting and fencing to exclude life stock, partnering with DOC to assist pest eradication and benefit biodiversity, helping manuhiri reduce their carbon footprint, eliminating single-use plastics, and educating manuhiri on all of the above to make their visit to Aotearoa safe and memorable.