After Bay of Island and Rotorua, Waitomo was one of my favorite stops in New Zealand. We started off our adventure with the 1km Ruakuri Walk - definitely a must-do tramp when visiting Waitomo.
There are caves, gorges, and fantastically structured limestone formations.
Then we joined SpellBound Tours (see info below) for an amazing two-cave trip.
Into the cave we go..
Hard hat! Lights! Warm clothing! check, check, check.
We chose this tour because it didn’t require suiting up in a wetsuit and jumping off rocks. And it was known for the incredible glow-worm experience.
I tried my best to photograph the glow worms but it was a miserable failure. There are a few professional shots down at the bottom too, but they simply cannot convey how incredible it was to be in a cave lit entirely by biolumenessence.
Beginning the rafting portion of the cave experience.
How do you tell the difference between stalactites and stalagmites? Stalagmites are ‘mighty’ because they have to grow up from the ground!
Well, that’s a wrap on New Zealand. Thanks for coming along for the ride, Dear Readers.
All New Zealand Posts:
Part 1: New Zealand Travel Route: The North Island in 8 Days
Part 2: Auckland: the cosmopolitan heart of the North Island
Part 3: Waipoua Forest: giant trees and pretty views
Part 4: Bay of Islands: Swimming with Dolphins
Part 5: Karangahake Gorge: an abandoned gold mine in a stunningly beautiful valley
Part 6: Rotorua: The Yellowstone of New Zealand
Part 7: Tongariro and Whanganui National Parks: Two of the “Nine Great Walks of New Zealand”
Part 8: Waitomo: Glow Worms Galore!
If You Go
Where to Stay
Waitomo Lodge Motel - Looks like a ho hum motel from the outside but it’s slick Scandinavian modern inside with great beds and a nice kitchenette (micro, fridge, and plates/cups/utensils). Big grocery store just up the road. From $125 NZ/night. Just fifteen minutes from Waitomo.
What to Do
Ruakuri Walk - 1 km. This short walk is a ‘must do’ when visiting the Waitomo area. Includes caves and classic limestone outcrops in a pretty river gorge.
Spellbound Cave Tours - a smaller tour company than the regular outfits, you’ll skip the enormously overcrowded caves and enjoy an incredible underground experience, complete with a subterrarium boat ride and a glowing tunnel. Our group of 15 was perfectly suited to exploring two separate caves. Our guide Norm was excellent. Includes a short bush walk and tea/coffee/cocoa. Good for those that aren’t up for the getting wet or have some mobility issues (or are pregnant!).
What We Considered
The Legendary Black Water Rafting Trip - from their website: The Legendary Black Water Rafting Company is New Zealand’s first black water rafting adventure operator. We’ve been sharing thrills and excitement since 1987, and have experienced guides who will take you safely through the stunning underworld of Ruakuri Cave. What began as a special treat for a brave few has developed into a spectacular tourism attraction that gives visitors of all ages the chance to abseil (rappel), weave, jump, climb, and float through a glowworm-studded subterranean wonderland at Waitomo Caves.