Situated in the North Island of New Zealand, 12 km NW of Te Kuiti are the breathtakingly beautiful caves of Waitomo. In the Maori language wai stands for ‘water’ and tomo stands for ‘hole’.
Although there are numerous caves in Waitomo but the three caves that we have covered in this article stand out from the rest and are a shining example of nature’s beautiful creations on earth.
The first and the most popular caves are the Waitomo Glowworm Caves.
Waitomo Glowworm Caves
As you silently glide through the glowworm grotto along the Waitomo river, you witness mother nature’s exquisite marvel of millions of tiny glowing creatures hugging the walls and ceiling and illuminating the cave. The view is akin to gazing at millions of stars in the beautiful night sky.
These glowworms are actually not worms, but larvae with bio luminescent tails which react with oxygen to generate light.
When you go to the upper part of the caves through stairs you will see beautiful rock formations of the stalactites and the stalagmites which take centuries to form. Touching them can cause discoloration or breakage so you should refrain from touching them.
The cathedral inside the cave is the final place of the tour and is a special area known for amazing acoustics and special events like Christmas carols that are held here.
The second on the list is the Ruakuri cave.
This cave offers a compelling subterranean and an equally amazing experience as the Glowworm cave and begins with walking tour along a spiral path deep down the cave. The downward walkway is quite sturdy and has been constructed for safe access into this amazing underground grotto.
As you move down, the temperature keeps dropping with every descent and you may get dripped on inside the cave. As you move downwards you may have to crouch at many spots where the cave ceiling is low. You can even hear the water roar from a nearby waterfall along the ramp way. At 60 m depth from the entrance you can see amazing and breathtaking white and crystal like formations which you may never find anywhere else in the world. Magical, is the word with which this cave can be described.
The third and the last cave on our list is the Aranui cave
This cave is at a 5 minute drive from the glowworm cave and is a dry cave with no river or water body inside. The walk upto the cave entrance is through a tropical forest. As you enter, the first thing you see is the colony of cave Wetas for the first 10 m of the cave which are nocturnal insects.
You may not expect anything new here if you have already visited the other two caves but once you arrive here you will be in for a surprise. At the top, you are welcomed with a bright array of stunning cave stalactites which continues throughout the walk. In fact, the deeper in the cave you go the better the view becomes. It’s small in size but it offers the most beautiful collection of stalactites, stalagmites, flowstones and decorative formations.
The stunning rock formations tempt you to click a lot of pictures.
Adventure Activities in Waitomo caves
You can take adventure tours like the Black Abyss, Black Labyrinth and the Black Odyssey tour. Abseiling or tubing is also one of the ways to watch the Glowworms closely.
The Black Water Rafting co. in New Zealand offers many adventure activities in the caves. The Black Abyss is one of them, and if you are an adrenaline junkie then you can go ahead and experience the thrill of descending in a seemingly bottomless black depth of the Ruakuri cave which is studded with the glowworm colony.
Cave tubing underneath the glowworm colony, abseiling a 35 m tomo, climbing and whizzing down a flying fox are the many activities during a 5 hour expedition inside the cave.
The Black Labyrinth is another 3 hour adventure package in the Ruakuri cave where you can enjoy black water tubing, climbing and even taking leaps over cascading waterfalls inside the cave.
The Black Odyssey is a 5 hour adventure package which includes all the thrills of dry caving like spider walking through ancient rift passages through the main network of the cave’s hidden passages.
In all the packages you are accompanied by experienced caving guides.
How to reach the Waitomo Caves
The Waitomo caves are at a 2.5 hour drive from Auckland. Many tour operators and hotels provide excursions to the caves. Hiring a cab or driving to the caves is also one of the options that you can consider.
If you happen to travel to North Island in New Zealand, make sure to visit these beautiful caves which are an amazing gift of nature and such natural beauty is rare to find at any other place in the world.
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