Welcome to Waitomo Caves


The name Waitomo comes from wai (water) and tomo (hole or shaft): dotted across this region are numerous shafts dropping into underground cave systems and streams. There are 300-plus mapped caves in the area: the three main caves – Glowworm, Ruakuri and Aranui – have been bewitching visitors for over 100 years.

Your Waitomo experience needn’t be claustrophobic: the electrically lit, cathedral-like Glowworm Cave is far from squeezy. But if it’s tight, gut-wrenching, soaking-wet, pitch-black excitement you’re after, Waitomo can oblige.

There’s no petrol in town, but there’s an ATM at Kiwi Paka. It's best to stock up on cash, groceries and petrol in either Te Kuiti or Otorohanga though.


Top experiences in Waitomo Caves

Travel guides

Starting at $36.39

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Waitomo Caves activities

$99.19 Water Sports

Black Water Rafting Waitomo Caves Tour

The Black AbyssDesigned for people with a moderate level of fitness, the five-hour invigorating journey includes a minimum of two hours exhilarating underground adventure. Abseil (Rappel) into the awesome limestone tomb to experience the adrenaline rush as you clamber and slide through squeezes, zip into the black water filled abyss and scramble up waterfalls in your pursuit of daylight. Inside the cave naturally occurring decorations such as stalactites and stalagmites will amaze while the resident glowworms promise to provide a spectacular visual exhibition as you traverse through the subterraneous playground. Includes: Abseiling training, abseiling 37 metres, caving and walking, cave tubing (black water rafting), glow worms, jumps, flying fox, climbing The LabyrinthThis popular tour involves a combination of walking and floating on an inner tube through a unique underground river system. As you prepare for your adventure your professional guide will ensure you are properly equipped and teach you some fun techniques before you climb down into nature's underground network for an enjoyable cave tubing experience of a lifetime! Streams spill, twist, turn and join to build a river canyon. Glide with the water as it drops down the hidden waterfall and tumbles down rocky chutes before sliding through vaulted limestone galleries to finally emerge into the dazzling green Waitomo forest. Prepare to be amazed at the naturally occurring decorations within the cave including stalactites and stalagmites. This exhilarating journey also provides a spectacular visual display of glowworms. Includes: caving and walking, cave tubing (black water rafting), glow worms, small waterfall jump At the end of your experience enjoy a hot shower, hearty soup and bagel.

$36.86 Kid Friendly

Waitomo Glowworm Caves Guided Tour

World renowned and a magnet for both local and overseas visitors, the Waitomo Glowworm Caves occupy a high placing in the New Zealand vacation wish-list. The glow worm, Arachnocampa luminosa, is unique to New Zealand. Thousands of these tiny creatures radiate their unmistakable luminescent light as the expert guides provide informative commentary on their historical and geological significance to the region. Waitomo Glowworm Caves are a must see for any traveler. Enjoy the world famous boat ride under thousands of magical glowworms and become a part of over 125 years of cultural and natural history. Walk through the majestic Cathedral Cave famous for its spectacular formations and acoustics. Marvel at Mother Nature's light display as you glide silently through the starry wonderland of the Glowworm Grotto. Meander underground along the Waitomo River and gaze in silence at the myriad of glow worm lights that make up the Glowworm Grotto. As you enter this galaxy of tiny living lights, you'll immediately experience a serene ambience and be fascinated and intrigued by tiny glowworms that light your way.

$172.91 Day Trips & Excursions

Rotorua to Auckland 1-Way Tour, via Waitomo Glowworm Caves

Following a morning pickup from your Rotorua hotel, meet your guide and hop aboard your luxury coach for the journey to New Zealand’s famous Waitomo Caves. Travel through picturesque rural scenery of the Mamaku Ranges and listen as your guide talks of the area’s heritage on route. Enjoy spectacular sights such as Fitzgerald Glade — where the trees arch overhead to form a tunnel of natural greenery — and capture the countryside views on camera. On arrival at Waitomo Caves, follow your guide for a 45-minute tour through the world-famous subterranean caverns. Learn how the stalagmites, stalactites and other spectacular limestone rock formations formed over millions of years, and soak up the atmosphere in this otherworldly cavern system beneath the ground. Take a boat ride through the caves and marvel at the thousands of tiny lights emitted by the glow-worms hanging from the ceilings. First discovered in 1887, the caves are home to glow-worms unique to New Zealand and now rank among the country’s most fascinating and popular attractions. After your boat ride, explore the Waitomo visitors’ complex at your leisure and learn more about this unique and beautiful corner of New Zealand. Take a seat and relax amongst the trees in the natural setting outside the caves or enjoy a buffet lunch (if option selected). Restaurant and café-style meals are available at your own expense. When your time at the Waitomo Caves is up, hop back aboard your coach for the onward journey north toward Auckland. Pass through the ‘Bridge City’ of Hamilton and the lush farmland of the Waikato region — the dairy farming capital of New Zealand — and arrive in Auckland in the mid-afternoon to conclude your tour.

$41.55 Outdoor Activities

Waitomo Glowworm Tour at Footwhistle Cave

Meet your guide and small group at the CaveWorld office, then hop in a shuttle for a 5-minute ride to the cave. Disembark and follow your guide on a short walk through New Zealand’s lush forest where you can glimpse native birds, ferns and a large waterfall that feeds a stream that runs into the cave. Pause at the entrance while your eyes adjust to the dim light and listen as your guide shares the history of Footwhistle cave, known to local Maori as Te Anaroa cave. Once you’re ready, enter the candle-lit cavern. Marvel at the soft pinpoints of light that come from the glowworms surrounding you. Your guide can help you get great photos in the dim cavern. Continue further into the cave on a side passage where you will see ancient bones from a moa, a large emu-like bird that went extinct about 600 years ago.As you slowly walk through the cave system, note its otherworldly setting of sparkly stalactite and stalagmite formations, twinkling bugs, and a bubbling stream that runs through the cave.When you reach the largest cavern, take a seat as your guide demonstrates how the first cave tours were conducted more than 100 years ago. Your guide lights a magnesium torch that flares brightly for a moment, revealing sculptural rock formations and a dome-shaped ceiling. As the torch fades, your guide turns on the lights and gives you time to look around the magnificent space. Make your way back to the cave entrance after about 30 minutes and return by shuttle to the office where your tour ends.

$106.56 Outdoor Activities

Glowworm Caving Adventure Tour in Waitomo

The cave system we visit is one of only two in the Waitomo district that is classified by New Zealand's Department of Conservation as being of “International Significance”. And it is completely untouched! There are no handrails, electric lights, concrete paths, or other modifications, and the tour involves climbing over boulders, up hills and wading through streams. A moderate level of fitness is therefore required. Allow 3 hours for the tour, of which approximately 2 hours is spent in the cave system. We provide all the equipment and clothing you need for your adventure, including appropriate clothing, boots, socks, and caving helmet. So once the tour is over you can pop back into your clean clothes and leave us to deal with your dirty laundry! We also offer shower facilities, hot drinks, and a snack, once the tour is over. Cameras are welcome on our adventures, as long as they are not too large. A small digital camera is best, and some people even bring their phones to take photos. Our guides will also take photographs during the tour, and digital copies are provided to you at no charge. Keen photographers hoping to bring larger equipment to capture the scenery may wish to consider one of our Glowing Adventures Glow Worm Cave Photography Tours. Glowing Adventures is located off the beaten tourist track, but still within a short drive of the Waitomo Caves Village and the small towns of Te Kuiti and Otorohanga. Please note: This tour is not suitable for elderly people or anyone with mobility difficulties. A reasonable level of fitness is required.

$52.27 Outdoor Activities

75-Minute Guided Ruakuri Cave Tour

Discover the spectacular Ruakuri Cave on this 75-minute guided walking tour.Ruakuri Cave has displays of glowworms and is filled with beautiful stalactites and stalagmites formed over millions of years. Points of interest include softly folding shawl-like formations (formed by flowing rivers) and fossilized seashells, which indicate how the caves were once part of the seabed. Major features include Holdens Cavern, named after James Holden who first opened the cave to the public, The Drum Passage, The Pretties, and The Ghost Passage.Tours depart every day (except Christmas Day) at 9.00am, 10.00am, 11.30am, 12.30pm, 1.30pm, 2.30pm and 3.30pm. Photography is permitted in Ruakuri Cave. Ruakuri Cave is wheelchair accessible. .