GUEST ARTICLE: Waitomo Caves is located on New Zealand North Island and crawls with tourists looking for a glowworm fix. And with over 300 caves dotting the area you can understand why. However, only a select few are accessible and sublet to tour operators.
I’d recommend Spellbound tours (NZ$60) which last for about three hours. They are literally off the beaten track – you and a small group are driven along a rough and bumpy track into the quiet countryside, well away from the main commercialised and take-away style experiences available in the town centre.
Your eyes are given enough time to adjust to the dark conditions so that you can enjoy more glowworms (Arachnocampa luminosa), rather than shoot in and out on half an hour. But – be warned – flash photography is banned inside the cave as it stuns the worms and distorts the experience for others. We learnt that glowworms are not worms at all, but maggots with shiny tails and shiny poo!
You’ll glide down the first cave in a small boat in total silence. Clusters of glow worms on the ceiling and walls emit a faint blue-ish green-ish tinge, with some flashing slightly. The poor buggers don’t stick around for long though. After reproducing and hatching, they simply drop off, and the cycle begins again from larvae to maggot.
There’s a tea/coffee/cookie break outside the tunnel in the peaceful and grassy hills before you walk to the next tunnel to see crystal formations. Inside were orange, white and brown rock faces, crystals and old Moa bird bone remains
The Waitomo Glowworm Caves are located in the southern Waikato region of the North Island of New Zealand, 12 km northwest of Te Kuiti. The nearest rail station to Waitomo caves is in Otorohanga (14 minutes).
Waitomo caves is about 2 hours south of Auckland, 1 hour south of Hamilton, and 2 hours west of Rotorua. To drive there exit State Highway 3 onto Waitomo Caves Road and to continue on this road for about 8 km.
This article has been written by Pranav Bhatt. He is a graduate of the Faculty of Economics and Business at Sydney University. He has an interest in world travel, cricket, politics, technology and the media.
If you’ve travelled somewhere off the beaten track, can write well and have good quality photos I encourage you to contact me and I’ll consider publishing your travel diary here including generous attribution and links back to your website as thanks for your contribution