Waitomo Caves in North Island – New Zealand

Waitomo Caves tour are among the most exciting adventures you can embark on while in New Zealand. The Caves refer to both the cave system and the village where they are found.


This tourist site is located at the southern Waikato region in Notrh Island. It is 12 km to the northwest of Te Kuiti.

What to See

The main caves are the Gardner’s Gut, Ruakuri Cave, Waitomo Glowworm Cave and Aranui Cave. The Glowworm Caves are the best known. Here you will find the glowworms. Known scientifically as Arachnocampa luminosa, these animals glow in the dark.

Apart from the glowworms, a Waitomo Caves tour gives you the opportunity to see the natural beauty of the cave. One of the most popular features is the Cathedral cavern, thanks to its acoustics. The Cathedral has seen several well known singers perform there, opera diva Kiri Te Kanawa among them.


The caves are millions of years old. These caves were produced by volcanic and geological activity in the area. The limestone at the Glowworm Caves appeared when the region was still submerged in the ocean 30 million years ago.

The limestone is made up of fish skeletons, sea shells, fossilized corals and other small organisms. After millions of years, the rocks become layered and compact. This would result in the limestone surface now visible.

The caves were formed when the movement of the earth caused the limestone to bend and go up. Cracks appeared when the rocks were exposed to the atmosphere. The limestone was dissolved, leading to the formation of the caves.


The costs of the tours vary. Some of the travel packages will cost 175 dollars. These will include not just a tour of the caves but also the nearby areas.

Other Info

One of the most striking features of the cave is the Tomo, a deep limestone shaft. The shaft is 16 meters high. This used to be the site of an old waterfall. Today, flows can still be seen during heavy rains. There is sufficient lighting so one will see the layers of limestone. The Tomo is actually one of the newest features of the cave to have been formed.

When going on a Waitomo Caves tour for the first time, remember that it will consist of a trip to 3 levels. You start at the top with the Catacombs. The second level is known as the Banquet Chamber. The Cathedral is down at the third.