Waitomo Glowworm Caves

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Waitomo Glowworm Caves, Rotorua Overview

Waitomo Glowworm Caves is a unique tourist attraction located in Rotorua, New Zealand. The caves are home to a large number of glowworms. These hollows can be explored on foot till a point and through an underground stream beyond that. As the journey begins, the appointed guide provides interesting information about the ecology and the history of the caves. Then, just before the end of the trip, visitors get to witness the spectacle as the glowworms sparkling like stars in the dark and dingy caves. The ambience and the experience make Waitomo Glowworm Caves a great place to have a delightful time watching the sparkling creatures with loved ones. The tours are all guided and thus, safe for all age groups. The underground boat rides are also a part of the complete package.

The glowworm species found in the Waitomo Glowworm Caves are scientifically known as Arachnocampa Luminosa. These glowworms are found only in New Zealand. Therefore, apart from being one of the top tourist attractions in the country, the caves also attract environmentalists, ecologists and nature enthusiasts. The name Waitomo comes from the Maori language wherein “wai” means water and “tomo” means hole, signifying the underground stream that leads to the glowworm caves.
The attraction is also known for its 300 other caves that are made up of natural limestone. The limestone formations were the result of volcanic activity in the region. The caves are also believed to have an important place in the Maori Culture. At present, a scientific advisory group monitors the cave environment and the number of people entering them.

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Entry Fee

Prices Per Person
Children – NZD 24
Adults – NZD 53
Family – NZD 131
(2 adults + 2 children)
Additional Children – NZD 18

Best Time to Visit the Caves

Spring Time
The best time to visit Waitomo Glowworm Caves in Rotorua is during the Spring and Autumn Seasons. Springtime lasts from September to November. The city experiences bright, pleasant and sunny days perfect for exploring the outdoors during this season — the temperature hovers between 13°C and 21°C with occasional rains.
Autumn begins in March and lasts until May. The minimum temperature remains the same (around 13°C), but the maximum hovers approximately 26°C. Because of the rise in the temperature, the region draws tourists in large numbers, which causes the caves to be overcrowded, especially during peak hours. Nonetheless, this season is recommended for activities like exploring the caves

Events and Activities

Waitomo Glowworm Caves are divided into three different levels.
Level One
The first level consists of some caves and catacombs which are connected by a limestone shaft that is 16 metres tall and called Tomo. Here, people get to see striking stalactites and stalagmites in various sizes.
Level Two
Beyond this level is the Banquet Chamber where the early visitors would take a pit stop, especially for food. An evidence to this is the presence of carbon on the ceilings. This part of the caves is connected to the “Pipe Organ” which is the most significant formation inside the natural structure. On days when the number of visitors is beyond a specific limit, this part of the cave is shut to control the levels of carbon monoxide.
Level Three
Then there is the third level, the “Cathedral” which is known for its acoustics. The Cathedral has an 18-metre-high enclosed area and a jetty. From here, visitors are taken across the underground stream of Waitomo River on a boat to see the glowworms

History of Waitomo Glowworm Caves

Waitomo Glowworm Caves were known to the Maori people well before anyone else discovered them. For almost a century, the existence of the cave was hidden from the world. It was only in the late 19th century that more people came to know about this attraction.
A Surveyor's Story
A member of the Maori tribe, Tane Tinorau, who originally hailed from Kawhia, teamed up with two surveyors from England, Fred Mace and Laurence Cussen to explore the caves and carry out extensive examinations. The most notable surveys were conducted in 1887 and 1888 when they discovered the glowworm hollows and the limestone formations.
Final Revelation
In 1889, Tane, along with his wife, Huti, opened the cave up for the public to see the spectacle. The Government tried to buy the caves from them for years later. Following an incident of vandalism in 1906, the place was wholly taken over by the Government.

How To Reach Waitomo Glowworm Caves

Waitomo Glowworm Caves are located about 156 kilometres away from the city centre.
The best way to reach the attraction is by a rental or a self-driven car. But, some buses ply from Rotorua, Auckland and Wellington frequently.
By Bus
One may choose to board one of these buses heading to the caves. Most tour packages include this commute.
By Air
The closest airport is the Rotorua Regional Airport (158 kilometres away). Travellers flying in can take public transport to reach the caves by the roadways.
Course of the Tour
The route from Rotorua leading to the caves goes through Millar Road – Okareka Loop Road – SH 30 – SH 30A – SH 5/ Old Taupo Road – Thermal Explorer Highway – Webster Road – Overdale Street – Princes Street – Arapuni Street – Lake Arapuni Road – Waipapa Road – Bayley Road – Lethbridge Road – Wharepuhunga Road – Happy Valley Road – Ngahape Road – Rangiatea Road – Phillips Avenue – Waitomo Valley Road – Waitomo Cave Road.

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