The drive from Auckland to Rotorua is 228km, however we decided to make a detour and drive an extra 113km in order to visit the Waitomo Caves.  The detour was well worth it, despite being extremely tired (perhaps a little hungover) from the night prior.

The main attraction that drew us to the caves was the Glowworm Tour that we had heard about.  The tour consisted of a guided walk through the Waitomo Glowworm Caves which culminated in a boat ride through the caverns of the cave.  After the eyes adjusted it was absolutely incredible to see the walls and ceilings of the cave lit up by thousands of glowworms which live in the interior of the caves, feeding on bugs that are attracted to the inside by the running water within.

It was a bizarre feeling to be crammed into a boat, shoulder to shoulder and then led through the inside of a cave that was at the point of boat departure 40 feet below ground level.  Throughout the boat ride absolute silence was required, any noise disturbance and the glow of the worms may extinguish.

The use of cameras was prohibited throughout this part of the tour as flash photography would obviously disturb the worms in their natural environment.  Fortunately the second tour we did through the Aranui Cave allowed for some photographs to be taken.

The Aranui Cave was created by a river running through the interior of the limestone cavern.  It was discovered by chance only around 110 years ago and after being mapped (which only took a year) the cave has been open for tours ever since.  This was the first time I had seen so many stalactites, which take around 100 years to grow 2cm.  There was the odd stalagmite to be viewed as well, however most of the detail in the cave came from above our heads.

A detour definitely worth making, it was one of those experiences that I know I’m never going to forget.

Aranui Cave Aranui Cave Simon at Aranui Cave Simon and Me at Aranui Cave Aranui Cave Aranui Cave Stalactites at Aranui Cave Me at Aranui Cave Stalactites at Aranui Cave Me at Aranui Cave Aranui Cave


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