The Wonders of the Waitomo Glowworm Caves

Tucked away in the very south of the Waikato region of NZ’s north Island is found one of the Wonders of the NZ World; the most extraordinary Waitomo Caves. In the top 20 NZ tourist ‘must-do’s’ - they attract a steady stream of spellbound visitors. The Caves are not just impressive for their magnificent cathedral-like size, but due also to their population of ‘Arachnocampa Luminosa’ or Glowworms to you and me.

‘Waitomo’ is Maori Te Reo for ‘wai’ water and ‘tomo’ sinkhole, giving the overall meaning of ‘water passing through a hole’. This emphasis on water is important for when the caves were ‘discovered’ in 1884 by an unlikely combination of local Maori Chief; Tana Tinorau and English Surveyor; Laurence Cussen they had to fashion a raft of flax and wood to enter the cave’s stream with flaming torches, as illumination, to explore. This Indiana Jones-like extensive exploration lasted 2 years and they were astounded by the incredible limestone formations everywhere that took millions of years to form, but what really took their breath away (as it will yours) were the hundreds of thousands of glowworms shining brilliantly from the walls and ceilings. These ceilings were sometimes just an arm’s length away and at other times they towered over 30 meters above and, happily, you can experience this exact same experience today, as your boat drifts serenely with you, friends and family, in reverent silence gazing up at this spectacular lightshow. It really could be the celestial sky on a clear night.

No wonder then that these caves have featured so heavily over the last 125 years as one of NZ’s most visited tourist attractions, with even a grand hotel being built close to them in 1910. In 1989 the land and caves were returned to the descendants of Chief Tane Tinorau who neatly comprise many of the employees of the caves today. Your cave-guide will doubtless be from the local Iwi and will expertly guide you around the wonders of this timeless place.

Drive there with us, at Olie’s Travels, safely in a luxurious and air-conditioned Mercedes small bus and allow yourself to be pampered with blankets, icy metal water bottles and sumptuous snacks as well as an included excellent a la carte lunch at a local top eatery. Your guide will be friendly, attentive and informative, ensuring that this is a beautiful and memorable life-experience in your New Zealand holiday.

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