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Waitomo Glowworm Caves

Waitomo Glowworm Caves: Our most recommended tours and activities

Waitomo: Glowworm Caves Guided Tour by Boat

1. Waitomo: Glowworm Caves Guided Tour by Boat

Discover New Zealand's natural wonder of Waitomo Glowworm Caves on a guided boat trip. Glide by boat through this underground complex, watching millions of tiny bioluminescent insects lighting up the rocky limestone. Explore this cave complex, including a chance to visit the Cathedral Cave on foot. The caves were formed over 30 million years ago and comprise 2 levels. The upper level is dry and includes the entrance to the cave and formations known as the Catacombs, the Pipe Organ, and the Banquet Chamber. On the lower level are stream passages and the Cathedral. Begin on foot as your local guide brings the caves to life with stories about their history. Then, board a boat and marvel at the light display as you glide silently through the starry wonderland of the Glowworm Grotto.

Waitomo Caves: Labyrinth Black Water Rafting Experience

2. Waitomo Caves: Labyrinth Black Water Rafting Experience

Float down an underground river, slip into fast waters, jump off a small waterfall and take in the magic of the glowworm grotto of Ruakuri Cave on this Black Labyrinth adventure. Put on your gear and learn from professionally trained guides that will take you ziplining, rafting, and caving.  Check in for your black water adventure in Waitomo. Get all your equipment and instructions from your guide before you begin the subterranean journey. Leap over cascading waterfalls and weave and climb through a glowworm-studded wonderland. After an energized trip, float serenely down the underground river. Enjoy the glow worm show on the vaulted limestone galleries up above. Ride a stream that twists and turns through a canyon, and tumble down a hidden waterfall and rock slide before emerging into the sun-dappled Waitomo forest. The rafting base is located a short distance outside Waitomo Caves village. This is the booking and assembly point for all black water rafting expeditions. It is also the home of the Long Black Cafe, where you'll find delicious food, coffee, and friendly Kiwi service. 

Ruakuri Cave 1.25-Hour Guided Tour

3. Ruakuri Cave 1.25-Hour Guided Tour

Explore Ruakuri Cave, New Zealand’s longest guided underground walking tour. Ruakuri Cave offers a captivating blend of Waitomo's most compelling subterranean experiences. Ruakuri Cave has displays of glowworms and is filled with beautiful stalactites and stalagmites formed over millions of years. Journey down through the spectacular spiral entrance, and marvel at the softly folding shawl-like limestone formations and crystal tapestries.  Hear the distant thunder of the subterranean waterfalls and get up close to the glowworms. Major features include Holdens Cavern, named after James Holden who first opened the cave to the public, The Drum Passage, The Pretties, and The Ghost Passage. Your knowledgeable guide will bring the history, features, and legends of the cave to life with their storytelling. Many of the guides are locals whose parents and grandparents have guided in the caves. The experience will leave you awe-struck and humbled by the sheer majesty of nature.

Waitomo Caves Black Abyss Ultimate Caving Experience

4. Waitomo Caves Black Abyss Ultimate Caving Experience

Go on the ultimate caving adventure at the Waitomo Caves. Satisfy your inner adrenaline junky on this guided tour into the depths of Ruakuri Cave. Zipline through otherworldly glowworms, and splash through underground waterfalls. Check-in in Waitomo where your guide will ensure you are properly equipped and offer some technical instruction before you descend into the underground network of the Waitomo Caves.  Practice abseiling with your guide to ensure you feel confident before abseiling down 35-meters into the seemingly bottomless black depths of the glowworm-studded Ruakuri Cave. Descend deeper with a flying fox zipline that passes through an area that is abundant with glowworms. Prepare to be awed by stunning stalactites and stalagmites that decorate the cavern walls as you traverse through the dark water.  Enjoy adrenaline-fueled fun as you clamber down, float through the canyon, and scramble up waterfalls before resurfacing into daylight. At the end of your exhilarating journey, enjoy a hot shower, hearty soup, and a bagel.  End at the Long Black Café, a great place to sit back, relax and enjoy the high energy atmosphere as excited visitors depart and arrive from their various expeditions. Internet access and merchandise are also available at this point. 

From Auckland: Hobbiton & Waitomo Caves Day Trip with Lunch

5. From Auckland: Hobbiton & Waitomo Caves Day Trip with Lunch

Join this tour to visit two of New Zealand's most iconic and famous attractions, the Hobbiton Movie Set and the Waitomo Glowworm Caves, in a day trip from Auckland.  After pickup from your central Auckland hotel, travel south over the Bombay Hills for panoramic views of the Waikato Region and the scenic Hauraki Plains. Arrive at The Shire's Rest in Matamata, the home of the Hobbiton Movie Set. Your guide will help you skip the crowds so you can explore the Movie Set on an official 2-hour tour. Be escorted through the 10-acre site and learn fascinating details of how the Hobbiton Movie Set was created.  See Hobbit Holes, The Green Dragon Inn, and The Mill. Savor a complimentary specially-brewed beverage at The Green Dragon Inn.  Afterwards, travel to the mesmerizing Waitomo Glowworm Caves, where you'll enjoy a Kiwi-style lunch at The Homestead in Waitomo. On the way, share stories from Hobbiton and interact with your fellow travelers.  Glide silently by boat in the world famous caves and be amazed by the thousands of magical glowworms.  Your guide will likely be a descendant of the Maori Chief who originally explored the Caves and can share with you the remarkable history of the area. Walk through the majestic Cathedral Cove, famous for its acoustics. The return trip takes you through some of New Zealand's most beautiful countryside before following the majestic Waikato River northwards part of the way back to Auckland. You will pass Taupiri with its very sacred Maori burial ground. The day concludes with your return to your accommodation.

Waitomo: Glowworm Cave 3-Hour Guided Eco-Tour

6. Waitomo: Glowworm Cave 3-Hour Guided Eco-Tour

Get off the beaten track on this intimate 3-hour tour through some of New Zealand's natural wonders. Start with a brief walk through native bush and the scenic Mangapu gorge.  Hike through beautiful native New Zealand forest, wade through freshwater streams, climb over boulders, and explore untouched limestone caves and spectacular rock formations. Enjoy the mesmerizing glowworm displays in privately owned caves that remain unspoiled by paths or electric lights.  Finish up your tour with a shower, a hot cup of coffee or tea, and some light refreshments. 

Waitomo Caves 1-Kilometer-Long Zipline Tour

7. Waitomo Caves 1-Kilometer-Long Zipline Tour

Meet with your instructors at the park and get equipped with your own zipline gear. Learn everything you need to know for zip lining as you progress your way around the park. Start at a lower elevation among native trees where you will build your confidence. Get to grips with zip lining and learn about local geology and native Maori history along the way. Ride across the longest zip lines which will take you to the popular Waitomo Lookout Point, with breathtaking views over the region. Finish the experience with an adrenaline-filled 280-meter-long super-fast final ride where you can reach speeds of up to 80 kilometers per hour.

Auckland: Hobbiton Movie Set and Waitomo Small Group Tour

8. Auckland: Hobbiton Movie Set and Waitomo Small Group Tour

The tour starts with pickup from Auckland city, where the adventure begins as you drive through the stunning Waikato countryside, the most extensive farming area in the world, on a fully guided journey to Hobbiton. Along the way, don’t forget to take advantage of the photo opportunities as you admire the stunning natural landscapes all around of beautiful mountains and farmlands. After the drive, arrive at Alexander Family Sheep Farm and Shire's Rest, the entrance to Hobbiton, and marvel at the thousands of sheep that live here. While you’re here, grab a bite to eat, a coffee, or enjoy an ice cream to cool off while your guide collects your tickets to the movie set.  Next, hop on board one of the big green Hobbiton buses to depart on your 2-hour fully guided tour of this amazing 12-acre movie set with a professional Hobbiton guide to ensure you get the most out of your visit. During your tour trip into the lush pastures of the Shire, visit 44 hobbit holes, see amazing gardens, hear secrets and stories about the making of the movies and finish your LOTR experience with a cold beverage at the famous Hobbiton pub, The Green Dragon Inn. After your LOTR experience, it’s time to head west towards the stunning Waitomo region. Along the way admire the incredible hydro dams, beautiful farmland, race horses, and the Kiwiana capital of New Zealand. Before arriving at the caves, stop by Waitomo homestead for lunch, and a little surprise. Once in Waitomo, explore the ancient and amazing caves and marvel at the many cave formations including Stalactites, Stalagmites, and Lime Columns before descending even further underground for your Glowworm Grotto experience. Board your glow-worm boat for a cruise on the grotto river with thousands of glowworms sparkling above you. Unique to New Zealand for over 120 years, Waitomo Glowworm Caves are a must-see for any traveler.  On the guided trip back to Auckland the sights continue with New Zealand's longest river, the Huntly power station, and the Maori Queens’ burial site.

Black Water Rafting Adventure in the TumuTumu Cave

9. Black Water Rafting Adventure in the TumuTumu Cave

Spend about 2.5 hours underground in the dark, the only light from glowworms, on this wet adventure through sections of the TumuTumu Cave. Put on a helmet, boots and a wetsuit to take on the world-famous Waitomo Caves on a fun off-the-beaten-track experience. The trip combines the best elements of blackwater rafting, walking, climbing, swimming and tubing. The friendly staff will equip you with all the gear you need and look after you along the way. You don’t need to be a good swimmer, as the wetsuits provide lots of warmth and buoyancy.

From Auckland: Hobbiton, Rotorua & Waitomo Caves Day Trip

10. From Auckland: Hobbiton, Rotorua & Waitomo Caves Day Trip

Visit the Hobbiton Movie Set, Rotorua, and Waitomo Caves in one day on a fully-guided tour from Auckland. See three of North Island’s iconic sites in one attraction-filled day. Be ready and waiting at your hotel in time for your specified pickup time. Travel from Auckland to Hobbiton through Waikato. On arrival, you’ll be guided through the picturesque twelve-acre site and given fascinating details of how the movie set was created. The official tour concludes with a complimentary drink at the Green Dragon Inn. Climb back into the vehicle for the approximately 55-minute drive to Rotorua where you will spend around 1.5 hours. On arrival, visit key attractions, such as the lakefront, government gardens, and Rachel Springs. After sightseeing, have lunch at Pataka Kai, a restaurant next to the Te Puia thermal reserve. Enjoy views and take photos of Te Puia's Pohutu geyser and thermal valley from the restaurant. The tour does not include time in the reserve as unguided entry is no longer permitted. After Rotorua, drive to the world-renowned Waitomo Caves where you’ll enter the caves on foot and ride out in a small boat. Above your head will be thousands of tiny glowworms radiating their unmistakable luminescent light as an expert guide provides informative commentary. 

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What people are saying about Waitomo Glowworm Caves

Overall rating

4.7 / 5

based on 1,951 reviews

Alex the guide was very friendly and helpful the whole time. Helped explain a lot of what we were doing and about near-by attractions along our route. Also helped me personally with advice as someone who had just moved to NZ when I asked questions about living here and apartment hunting, so way above and beyond the call of duty! Absolutely recommend this group for others wanting to experience these two incredible locations, both of which are absolutely worth the visit due to their beauty and of course for fans of the LOTR stories.

Rob was absolutely amazing - taught us a little history and was really helpful in showing the safety aspect of everything and very reassuring.

John is the best tour guide I have ever had!!! He explained everything pretty good, I am 100% satisfy with his service.

Great tour. Max was awesome, welcoming and so knowledgeable. We took our 5 & 7 year olds & they liked it.

Great trip with a great guide! Highly recommended!