If you’re heading up the West coast of the North Island of New Zealand, a great place to stop for a couple of days is Otorohanga where you can visit the Glow Worm caves of Waitomo! As we were nearing the end of our time in New Zealand, we stayed for a few days in this small town, relaxing after almost a month in our escape campervan, and took a day trip to the Waitomo Caves.
To be honest, we’d never heard of Glow Worm caves before, but we were intrigued to see what they were like. Obviously you have to see them in the dark, which means going into some caves, so we booked a half day tour and headed out to see what all the fuss was about!
Into the Glow Worm Caves…
With our helmets strapped on and torches checked, we headed into the first of two caves on our tour. First up was the Glow Worm cave, with a small entrance alongside a flowing stream taking us into the cave where we followed the stream further into the darkness. Once we were far enough into the cave, we turned the torches off and instantly a couple of glow worms came into view. Tiny turquoise and blue dots of light above us. And then as our eyes began to adjust to the darkness, more and more started to appear out of the darkness until the entire cave ceiling was covered in thousands of tiny green lit dots! Unfortunately it was too dark and wet to get any photos of the glow worms, so we stood and admired them before being ushered further into the cave.
As we got further in, the roar of a waterfall in the distance became louder, and at this point the pathway ended. There was no other way to get any further than in a dingy along the stream! So in we got, and floated up and down the stream as the glow worms twinkled above us. It was magical! After around an hour in the cave, we bid our farewells to the glow worms and headed back out into the sunshine.
After a quick stop for hot cocoa and biscuits, we made our way to the second cave of the day. This was a dry cave, and we spent an hour meandering through the various areas of the cave as our guide explained how the caves had been formed over thousands of years.
This glow worm cave was incredible, with new caverns presenting themselves to us as we moved further into the cave. Stalagmites and stalactites were all around us, as were the remains of animals that had fallen through one of the many sink holes in the landscape.
After an hour, we reached the end of the cave (or at least as far as we were allowed to go) and once again made our way back to the entrance. There are many options for cave tours in the area, from a simple dingy ride and walk in the caves, to 100m abseils into huge caverns, there is something for everyone! We opted for an easy half day, but if you’re more adventurous there are plenty other options out there!