Discover New Zealand's natural highlights
The world-renowned Waitomo Glowworm Caves are a magnet for travellers around the world. The glow worm, or 'Arachnocampa luminosa', can only be found in New Zealand. Admire thousands of these tiny creatures radiating their luminescent light. Our expert guides provide informative commentary on the historical and geological significance of the caves.
The Waitomo Glowworm Caves are a must-see for any traveller. Enjoy this world-famous boat ride under thousands of magical glowworms. Absorb over 120 years of natural and cultural history.
The Waitomo Caves
The green hills of Waitomo cover a labyrinth of caves and underground rivers. The name Waitomo comes from the Maori words wai (water) and tomo (hole). The caves were created over thousands of years by underground streams pushing through soft limestone. They boast stunning stalactites growing down from the ceiling and stalagmites growing up from the cave floor. You will also find pointy cones with different layers of rock created over centuries by dripping water. The cave walls are also home to a wonderful galaxy of glow worms. The easiest way to admire the caves is with a walking or boat tour.
The boat ride
Admire some of Mother Nature's tiniest lights as you glide through the shiny wonderland of the Glowworm Grotto. Wander underground alongside the Waitomo River. Gaze in silence at the wonder of glow worm lights that shine in the Glowworm Grotto. Enter this galaxy of tiny living lights and experience a serene ambience. You will be fascinated and intrigued by these tiny creatures that light your way.
Two cave levels
There are two levels of the Waitomo Glowworm Caves. The levels are formed over 30 million years ago and are 16 metres apart. The dry upper level forms the entrance to the cave, and the formations known as the Catacombs, the Pipe Organ and the Banquet Chamber. The humid lower level is made out of stream passages and accommodates the Cathedral.
The Cathedral can be found on the humid lower level of the Waitomo Glowworm Caves. At 18 metres high, this is the largest cavern. Its enclosed shape and rough surface provide for superb acoustics which make the Cathedral world-renowned. The Cathedral has been the stage for many famous singers and choirs who have been delighted with the purity of the sound.
The Tomo is one of the many wonders of Waitomo. This 16-metres vertical limestone shaft gives way to an ancient waterfall which flows when it rains heavily. The dramatic vertical drop has been carefully lighted to reveal the natural-shaped walls and the layers of limestone. The Tomo was the last feature of the cave that has been formed. It links the upper level to the Waitomo River below.
Our experienced guides
Each tour group is accompanied by knowledgeable guides. Many of the guides are local people whose parents and grandparents have guided in the caves. Their story brings the history, features and legends of the cave to life.
- The Waitomo Glowworm Caves are accessible to people with reasonable mobility. The caves are equipped with good handrails and paths.
- Please note: the Waitomo Glowworm Caves do not have wheelchair access.
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