Wonderful Waitomo, In the Heart of Waikato

A 2 and a half-hour drive south of Auckland you will find yourself in Waitomo, an area rich in the history of the discovery of natural cave formations, underwater fossils, and Glow Worms.

Wai meaning water and Tomo meaning hole in Maori translates to the discovery of a natural cave as being a hole in the ground where water flows through, therefore Waitomo. With the option of 3 caves to choose from, we had chosen to visit Ruakuri cave and the Glow Worm cave, book in advance, and spaces on each tour are limited!

Ruakuri Cave

Ruakuri comes from the Maori word meaning 2 dogs, as this is how the cave was first discovered.
Hunters came across 2 dogs when they were out hunting for food, they got back to the village with no food as they were scared of the dogs. The Maori chief ordered the hunters to go out find the dogs and kill them. When the hunters went to find the dogs, they found both of them at the natural opening of the cave, killed them, and ate them. This is how the cave was discovered and how it got its name; Ruakuri.

once an area below the ocean pushed up through the movement of the tectonic plates that New Zealand sits on, and over 1000’s of years of formations through raindrops through the earth surface the formations inside the cave continue to grow, but only by a thumb-size every 100 years. This cave is the only cave in the world that is wheelchair accessible.

limestone formations

Not only does this cave has amazing natural formations of limestone it is also filled with glow worms, which are not actually worms, their actually glowing maggots, obviously the name glow maggot cave wouldn’t float with tourist, but since worms and maggots are similar somehow they got the name glow worms, learn something everyday!

Glowworms setting trap food

Glowworms only have a 3-week lifespan, and in order to survive, they need to catch the food they do this by attracting insects to their lights which they shine, and catching food on spider web-like strings as seen in the above picture.

The Wait

Not having booked online (Make sure you do), we ended up spending a lot of the day exploring around Waitomo which I strongly recommend,  you can drive 10 minutes to New Zealand Kiwiana town of Otorohanga and visit the kiwi birdhouse or stay in the area and go for a bushwalk and discover waterfalls.

Not only will you find native trees and forestry, but you will also encounter caves mini caves along the walk, and many stairs, but it’s totally worth it.

Glowworm Cave

The most famous cave. the lines are long, usually booked out but it’s something you don’t see everyday.

A cave similar to Ruakuri with many natural formations but with thousands of glowing worms (maggots technically speaking). Although you cannot take any pictures inside of this cave the experience of sitting in a boat and having thousands of glow worms above your head as if you’re looking up into the starry night sky.

cave entrance when cave first discovered

“the voyage of discovery is not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes”