Located on the north island of New Zealand, the Waitomo Caves are the main draw for tourists who visit the village it resides in each year. Underneath the lush landscape of Waitomo lies a system of caverns, sinkholes, rivers and caves. Originally seeing tourists only led by local Maori, the cave system has now turned into a full-fledged tourist destination. Both large and small, there are plenty of businesses willing to take visitors to explore what’s below New Zealand’s surface. If you are looking for the next destination on your campervan rental trip in New Zealand, check out why these caves shouldn’t be missed.
The Glow Worms
If you are visiting the cave system and want to get a good look at the infamous and magical glowworms, you must be sure to visit the Waitomo Glowworm Cave. Around the size of a mosquito, this species of fungus gnat is located mainly in the caves of New Zealand. They glow at all levels of their life cycle and are typically found in grottos, caves and wet/humid areas of forests. By taking a guided tour through the cave, you will be taken on a boat ride around the Glowworm Grotto. While floating through the grotto, the only lights you will see are those coming from the thousands of glowworms above your head.
This elaborate cave system is full of interesting sights to encounter aside from the standard stalactites and stalagmites. You will get to see and experience the underground river as well as the grottoes and catacombs that are situated inside. Learn about the chambers and make-shift rooms where early inhabitants spent time eating and meeting and wander down long hallways while checking out some of the limestone formations along the way.
The Levels of Difficulty
These caves are visitor friendly as they provide a place for tourists of any age or physical condition. Take a boat ride down the river if walking is too difficult for you or crawl and walk through the caverns if you want more of a challenge. Some of the caves feature wide open rooms for those who feel a little uncomfortable with small spaces and tunnels and narrow passageways for the more adventurous.
For The Adventure
A trip to Waitomo Caves can truly be an adventure. The local guides offer tours especially for those looking for a little exploration. The Black Water Rafting Company has been operating now for around 26 years, providing an adrenaline filled experience inside the caves. On this excursion, you will be led into the Ruakuri Cave with a headlamp and an inflatable tube to float, climb, jump, crawl and abseil around the interior. There are three different tour options to choose from. The Black Odyssey will have you climbing up rock faces and abseiling, the Black Abyss will have you descending into seemingly bottomless black holes and the Black Labyrinth will have you floating down the river and cascading over waterfalls.
For the ultimate detour on a campervan hire trip in New Zealand, be sure to come to Waitomo Caves. The scenery is stunning, the caves are out of this world and the experience is one in a lifetime.
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