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Waitomo Caves

Glow Worms, Stalactites and Stalagmites


Waitomo Glow Worm Caves

Waitomo Caves and Rotorua Day Experience
Discover Waitomo Caves
Discover Waitomo Caves from Rotorua

By Richard Moore

WAITOMO CAVES

 

Waitomo CavesFeeling a little adventurous and in need of something special?

Well then the perfect spot for you to visit is Waitomo where you can discover wonderful subterraenean limestone structures and the world-famous Waitomo glow worms.

Now Waitomo is a couple of hours south of Auckland and not far from the quiet town of Te Kuiti - well known for not having a traffic light or cinema.

The adventure begins when you have to head down underground into a cave complex - but don't worry, there is low-level lighting and all but the most claustrophobic tourist will complete the journey with ease.

The caves were discovered more than 100 years ago when a couple of local fellows followed a stream underground. They thought there was something in their find and so explored and mapped it over a number of years.

There are two main caves - the Glow Worm and the Aranui - the latter offers some of the finest limestone rock formations around. The limestone in the caves was formed up to 30 million years ago yet today you can still see formations being created. Drops containing limestone dribble through the cave roof and down the walls leave deposits of limestone crystals that continue to build up as either stalactites (that hang from the ceiling) or stalagmites (that grow from the cave floor).

There are various chambers within the cave system with interesting formations to look at - including an elephant's head - and you can also get to sing in an accoustically pure area known as the Cathedral.

The opera diva Dame Kiri Te Kanawa once sang in the Cathedral because the accoustics are so perfect. Guides will ask you to do your bit, but no one stepped forward on our tour.

The highlight of the journey underground has to be visiting the Glow Worm Grotto.

The little brutes don't like a lot of noise so you need to stay pretty quiet so you hop in large boats that get hauled around the underground stream and get to view the spectacular display.

They light up the darkened areas like stars and the boat trip through the cave is like being out in space. It is gob-smacking stuff.

Of course, the romantic image of Glow Worms is somewhat shattered by the excellent guides who take great delight in telling you that they are not worms at all but rather maggots and the lights are their bottoms shining to attract prey. Never mind.

The Waitomo Caves are terrific to visit and the guides take tour parties around every half hour or so.

 

 

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