World renowned and a magnet for both local and overseas visitors, the Waitomo Glowworm Caves occupy a high placing in the New Zealand vacation wish-list.
The glow worm, Arachnocampa luminosa, is unique to New Zealand. Thousands of these tiny creatures radiate their unmistakable luminescent light as our expert guides provide informative commentary on the Caves' historical and geological significance.
Waitomo Glowworm Caves are a must see for any traveller. Enjoy the world famous boat ride under thousands of magical glowworms and become a part of over 120 years of cultural and natural history.
The name "Waitomo" comes from the Māori words wai, water and tomo, hole or shaft. The local Māori people had known about the caves for quite some time before the local Māori Chief Tane Tinorau and an English surveyor, Fred Mace, did an extensive exploration in 1887] Their exploration was conducted with candlelight on a raft going into the cave where the stream goes underground. This is now the exit for the cave. As they began their journey, they came across the Glowworm Grotto and were amazed by the twinkling glow coming from the ceiling. As they travelled further into the cave by poling themselves towards an embankment, they were also astounded by the limestone formations. These formations surrounded them in all shapes and sizes.
They returned many times after and Chief Tane independently discovered the upper level entrance to the cave, which is now the current entrance. Tane Tinorau and his wife Huti, by 1889, had opened the cave to visitors and were leading groups for a small fee. The administration of the cave was taken over by the government in 1906 after there was an escalation in vandalism. In 1910, the Waitomo Caves Hotel was built to house the many visitors.
In 1989, the land and cave were returned to the descendants of Chief Tane Tinorau and Huti. They now receive a percentage of the cave’s revenue and are involved in the management and development of the cave. These descendants encompass many of the employees of the caves today