September 27, 2015

Visiting the Waitomo Caves

This weekend I added another tick to my Great New Zealand Bucket List! I finally visited the Waitomo glow worm caves.

It’s funny how we take things for granted in our own back yard, and this little west coast (well, nearly – more like West Waikato) town is one of those places. I had seen loads of pictures over the years and have also seen glow worms before, so I didn’t really prioritise these caves.

Shame on me! They are breathtaking filled with stalactites and stalagmites and a huge cavern where they even hold acoustic music events – and that’s before you hop in the tin dingy in the darkened river while your guide pulls you along silently via black ropes strung above (that only she can see).

Fascinating facts about glow worms!

Did you know that the adult glow worm fly has no mouth so it only lives for up to 2 weeks after coming out of its cocoon, mates, lays eggs then gets eaten by its young?!

The egg hatches into a white larvae (about 2 cm long) which has a little light in its tail to attract bugs in the darkness. They make long sticky saliva strings (see my pic below) and all sorts of little gnats and sandflies get stuck in them – as do their mum and dad, and aunts and uncles and everyone else! They then get sucked up like a spaghetti noodle and eaten. Delicious.

Photos of glow worms taken by an amateur are frankly amateurish, so I’ve included some professional ones. And, we’re not allowed to take cameras in there anyway. However you ARE allowed your camera in the nearby Ruakuri caves, so I have a few of my favourites (just taken on my iPhone, mind) below.

Waitomo caves

The stunning entrance to Waitomo Caves

Waitomo Caves
Waitomo glow worms

The pro shot of the little boat under the city of glow worm lights

There are so many glow worms here that even without the daylight from the tunnel you can make out the people sitting next to you on the boat as you quietly float through the caves.

Then off to Ruakuri Caves, about 5 minutes drive down the road to see the stalactites and mites…


This walkway takes you down 18m into the cave

Ruakuri caves

My iPhone photo – which I’m quite chuffed with!

Ruakuri caves

The bacon formation. Truly, that’s what they call it. Or shawl.

Glow worm saliva

The sticky glow worm saliva strings


If you need to get to these amazing caves, check out and book yourself in. My advice is to add Ruakuri Caves too, they are awesome.

About Megan Singleton


Hi, I'm Megan Singleton and I'm the word slinger of this blog as well as on radio every week and a few newspapers and mags from time to time. I set off on this travel blog malarkey 17 years ago and I've pretty much always got a suitcase half packed (or half un-packed!)I'd love you to join me on Facebook or Twitter and sign up for monthly newsletters if you want loads of travel tips, advice and deals!

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