- Guides expertly trained for the tours
- Theatre and cave tickets
- Small group
- Transfers to accommodation
WHAT TO EXPECT
Discover Ruakuri Cave and join New Zealand's longest underground walking tour. The Maori legends state that a young Maori hunting for birds first discovered Ruakuri Cave (rua = den; kuri = dog) 400-500 years ago. Wild dogs attacked him just outside the original cave entrance. The cave was re-opened in 2005, and is now an amazing example of natural cave structure and engineering.
In Ruakuri Cave you are bound to live a fascinating blend of Waitomo's subterranean experiences. Wander down the spectacular spiral entrance, and admire the crystal tapestries and shawl-like limestone formations. You will hear the thunder of the subterranean waterfalls in the distance and get up close to the glowworms.
Ruakuri Cave offers the longest guided underground walking tour in New Zealand. An experience you have to see before you believe it. This majesty of nature will leave you speechless.
How the caves were formed
The Waitomo Caves and neighbouring Ruakuri Caves are located in an area full of limestone rock. The cave structures began to form around 30 million years ago from the bones and shells of marine fossils. They collected on the sea floor and then hardened into sedimentary rock. At the same time the earth shifted and volcanoes erupted. It made huge slabs of limestone lift out of the sea. Over the centuries, water flowed through cracks in the rocks, widening them into larger and larger channels until huge caverns were formed.
Ruakuri Cave has an abundance of glowworms. It is filled with beautiful stalagmites and stalactites formed over millions of years. Another natural wonder includes softly folding shawl-like formations which are formed by flowing rivers. Fossilised seashells indicate how the caves were part of the seabed a long time ago.
One of the major sights is Holdens Cavern, which is named after James Holden. He was the first to open the cave to the public. Other sights include The Drum Passage, The Pretties, and The Ghost Passage.
The Waitomo and Ruakuri caves accommodate the larvae of a species of gnat called Arachnocampa luminosa. A glowworm that is unique to New Zealand. These little insects spend most of their life as larvae (juveniles). They only grow to the size of a matchstick. The effect of their twinkling lights is truly magical.
Ruakuri Cave has always been a spiritual place for local Maori. They originally used it as a sacred burial ground (wahi tapu).
The original public entrance to the cave went right through the burial ground. Today, the new spiral entrance ensures that visitors do not disturb this sacred place.
Our expert guides are specifically trained for the tours they run. They will guarantee your safety. All guides are trained and practised in emergency procedures and evacuations and have current advanced Outdoor First Aid Certificates.
585 Waitomo Caves Road, Waitomo, Otorohanga 3940, New Zealand.
What to bring?
- Comfortable walking shoes
- Warm jacket
- Ruakuri Cave is fully wheelchair accessible.
- A complimentary shuttle bus runs. Due to limited capacity during peak season, some customers may be required to self-drive to the cave entrance, 5km from our visitor centre.