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Guest Post by my buddy and baby daddy Tom Wilson

How To Choose Which Waitomo Glow Worm Caves To Visit

waitomo glow worm caves
See beautiful glowworms inside the caves

The Waitomo glow worm caves are like the starry skies of the underground. Inside them, countless pin-prick's light up the darkness.

Once you get over the fact that you're staring at the shimmering bottoms of 1,000's of slimy maggots... it's actually kinda beautiful.

Glow worms have been attracting tourists to Waitomo for over 100 years. But they aren't the only reason to visit Waitomo caves. There are lots of caves in the region with many different experiences on offer...

  • Viewing stunning limestone formations
  • Rafting through caves in the dark
  • Abseiling into vast chasms
  • Swooping through caves on a flying fox

Shaye and I recently headed south to Waitomo. We checked out a few different cave tours and chatted to the locals. Our aim... to help you pick the perfect cave experience for you.


Discover Bazillions of Glow Worms In These Caves

there are lots of glow worms in these caves
The spellbound tour had one of the brightest
of all the Waitomo glow worm caves

Some of the caves in Waitomo have got the perfect living conditions for glow worms. Which means they're more "glowy" than other caves.

The "glowiest" caves we saw on our trip were called...wait for it...

Waitomo Glow Worm Caves

I know... unimaginative right? But despite the boring name, you will see lots of glow worms if you go there.

You'll find these caves at the visitors centre on the main road of Waitomo.

Another cave with plenty of bright twinkle-bugs was the first one on the spellbound tour. I'm not sure of the name of the cave but if you go with spellbound they will take you there.

Also, according to Waitomo adventures, the lost world 7 hour epic has got a 10/10 glow worm rating. But we didn't visit this one so haven't seen it for ourselves.


Scare The $*@& Out Of Yourself With These Wild Activities

abseiling with waitomo adventures
Abseiling is one of the many adventures you can do in Waitomo

Waitomo is a bit of an underground playground for adults. I don't mean that in a kinky way. Rather that there are lots of awesome adventure activities on offer. Many of which flaunt glow worms as a side benefit.

Shaye and I did a nausea-inducing 100m abseil, which you can read about here (highly recommended)...

You can also...

  • Drift through the caves in a tube
  • Scramble up underground river systems
  • Fly through the caves on a flying fox

The two main adventure operators in Waitomo are...

  1. Waitomo adventures
  2. The legendary black water rafting co.


Chill Out On These Gentle Paced Tours

floating in a boat through the waitomo glow worm caves
See the glow worms on a gentle boat ride

In one of the cave tours we did, Shaye whispered to me. "This would be the perfect tour for my granddad"

She was right. It was gentle, slow-paced and informative. It was also incredibly beautiful and packed with glow worms.

If you're the non-adventurous type and would prefer a gentle tour with interesting background info - then these caves would be perfect for you...

  • Waitomo glow worm caves
  • Ruakuri cave
  • Aranui cave
  • Both of the Spellbound caves (Sir David Attenborough has filmed a documentary here!)


Let Your Jaw Drop In These Stunning Caves

the caves are full of amazing formations
The Waitomo glow worm caves are full of amazing rock formations

The Waitomo caves are made from limestone. As water seeps down through the layers of rock, amazing limestone structures are formed. They grow downwards from the ceiling or upwards from the floor - stalactites and stalagmites.

Whatever you do, don't ask me which is which because I never can remember. What I do know though is that they are beautiful.

Which is why I was a little disappointed we didn't get to see what are supposedly the 2 most beautiful caves in Waitomo...

  1. Aranui cave
  2. St. Benedicts caverns.

Perhaps you can check them out and tell us about it.


Escape The Crowds

escape the crowds at the waitomo caves
The smaller group tours are more enjoyable

If you're like me and Shaye, you prefer smaller, more personalised tours. You don't really go for the super-touristy attractions. You'd rather have a small group and get to know each other.

If that's the case, I'd stay right away from the main glow worm caves. Instead go for either...

  1. Spellbound tours - these are still a little touristy, but not as much as the main caves.
  2. One of the adventure options with small groups.


Whether you're exploring New Zealand for 10 days or 10 months - Waitomo is worth a stop. It's not everyday you get to admire something as strange and beautiful as those sparkly insects.