This was literally one of the best things I have ever seen in my life. Like EVER!
We had driven out of Auckland and we’re heading to Hobiton in Matamata but alas as soon as we got there they were sold out. Note to anyone planning on going defo pre book! So at risk of going a whole day with only seeing the scenery from the road (which was pretty awesome) I got online and booked tickets for Waitomo Glowworm Cave. It was about and hour and half drive there and super easy to find.
Collected our tickets just in time and then went to wait by the door to be let into the most amazing place.
Waitomo was first explored in 1887 by Chief Tane Tinorau and Fred Mace. The deaper they explored they suddenly found themselves thinking they found their way out of the caves and that night had fallen. They soon realised it wasn’t the stars they could see but actually Glowworms. The Arachnocampa luminosa is a glowworm species found only in New Zealand and are the species found in these caves.
The tour started with a walk through the caves and talk about the background and history of the caves and area. All the guides are descendants of Cheif Tane Tinorau and his wife Huti. In 1989 The land was given back to them and they can work, receive a percentage of the ticket prices and even get married within the caves. Our guide was fab she knew so much, really clear and engaging and just made the tour run smoothly. She said that it’s a family business and pointed out several other guides as cousins and uncles.
Your first experience of the glowworms is in a few little caves where you can see small clusters of them and also then with lights on so you can see the long strings they hang off. This is just giving you a little taster for the main event.
After looking through the caves the final part of the tour is spent in pitch black, on a rope pulled boat in complete silence. It should have been a eerie but it wasn’t. Slowly the guide pulled the boat along using the roaps above and suddenly the cave roof was illuminated in blue. It was like the most amazing star display within touching distance.
I was staring at the roof with my mouth open in awe whilst also wishing no glowworms fell off into my mouth. Thankfully they didn’t. We weaved around the caves and the concentration of glow worms just got larger and larger. It was there was a million galaxies above our very heads. Unfortunately you aren’t able to take photographs but the images are etched into my memories so clearly.
You then come to a small cave just near the end when you are able to take some photos. I promise in this very black picture there is something glow worms. Turn the brightness up, zoom in and squint and you’ll see them 😂
You then get m off the boat in the bottom of the gorge and make your way back up to the entrance still not believing what you’ve just witnessed.
The cost was $50NZ per person and we were there for around an hour/hour and half. You don’t need to be overly fit but there is walking and steps so wear appropriate walking footwear if possible.
This really was a bucket list activity and if you are in the North Island ensure you plan to visit. You won’t be disappointed.
Check out their website for stunning pictures within the cave and more details
Shire views leaving MatamataComing to the end of the cave and boat tripWalk through the bush back to the entranceWelcome and ticket centre