While the area is popular with tourists today, the beauty of the magnificent underground world here is no secret. The Maoris who traditionally lived on these lands long knew about the vast system of caves that was carved out by underground streams through the soft limestone landscape over hundreds of years. The name Waitomo comes from the Maori words ‘wai’ (water) and ‘tomo’ (hole).
With three main caves in the area, you can explore one or all three, each offering its own unique experience. The Waitomo Cave is most famous for its glow worms. Here you can bob along the underground river through the dark caves and watch the limestone walls come to life with thousands of these luminescent creatures unique to New Zealand. Next up, check out Ruakuri Cave, home to New Zealand’s longest guided underground walking tour. Wander through the fascinating spiral entrance, past glow worms, hidden waterfalls, gorgeous limestone formations and crystal tapestries. Then, if you’re still keen for more, don’t miss Aranui Cave, just a five minute drive away. The smallest and most delicate of Waitomo’s three main caves, inside the natural cave entrance you’ll find a beautiful collection of stalagmites, stalactites, flowstones and decorative formations.
The easiest way to explore the caves is to take a tour. Depending on which one takes your interest, you can walk through the caves and glide along on a boat, or for the more adventurous, some tours involve rafting, abseiling and climbing through these spectacular underground realms.
When you’re looking for somewhere to stay, we have accommodation right near the caves’ entrances, as well as in nearby townships like Waikato, Otorohanga and Te Kuiti. Just one hour from Hamilton and three from Auckland, Waitomo is a spot to stop if you’re travelling all the way from Auckland to Wellington. Check out our range of Waitomo accommodation now and crack the surface of this fascinating destination.
Need insider tips on must-see attractions in Waitomo Caves? Check out our Waitomo Caves travel guide!
Hotels in Waitomo Caves start at AU$111 per night. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.