The Waitomo Caves are between Otorohanga and Te Kuiti. It is 15 minutes drive (18 km) north of Te Kuiti, 1 hour (75 km) south of Hamilton, 2½ hours south of Auckland and 2 hours west of both Rotorua and Taupo.
Travelling south from Otorohanga and Hamilton on State Highway 3, turn right onto State Highway 37 at the Hangatiki roundabout. Waitomo Caves is 7 km up SH 37.
Waitomo offers many different activities for all ages and fitness. There are around 16 different glowworm cave tours you can do from the following caving companies - Kiwi Cave Rafting, The Legendary Black Water Rafting Company, Waitomo Adventures (Waitomo Adventure Center), Spellbound, Cave World and Waitomo Glowworm Caves. The local I-site is a great place to go to get information about the different tours available.
Waitomo is a great place to cycle. This aspect is being developed more to meet the increasing popularity of the activity. There are animal petting farms for the children, an abundance of free bush walks with interesting rock formations and caves to explore as well as gardens. Scenic flights and golf. The museum of caves is a must-see in Waitomo.
There are lots of quirky places around Waitomo to stay with lovely kiwi hosts to top off your Waitomo experience. And Waitomo has many great places to eat ranging from cabinet food to fish n chips or pub food, to fine dining and a buffet restaurant.
The locals are friendly and accommodating so don't be afraid to stop for a yarn.
Overall there's more to Waitomo than just a glowworm cave, so come and explore this great destination for yourself!
There is a shuttle service that can transfer you from Otorohanga and from Waitomo Caves Village you can be picked up for cave tours. The Great Sights bus does transfers to Rotorua daily. Tickets can be purchased at the Information Centre (I-site).
There is lots of accommodation within walking distance of the Village too as well as a few bush walks.
Travellers with a car are able to enjoy more activities further afield from the Village.
Tickets can be purchased individually, or in packages (Feb 2019):
- Waitomo Glowworm Cave and Ruakuri Cave: adult $94, child $35, family $204
- Waitomo Glowworm Cave and Aranui Cave: adult $79, child $35, family $169
- All three caves: adult $100, child $46, family $221
- 1 Waitomo Glowworm Caves, 39 Waitomo Village Rd, Waitomo Caves (just outside the Waitomo Village), ☏ , toll-free: 0800 456 922, firstname.lastname@example.org. Open from 9am daily, including holidays. Tour departs every 30 minutes.. The Waitomo Glowworm Caves are one of New Zealand's top tourist attractions, home to Waitomo glowworms, Arachnocampa luminosa, tiny creatures that radiate their luminescent light. Formed over 30 million years ago, the caves have majestic and ornate cave decorations, a deep limestone shaft known as the Tomo and the equally magnificent Cathedral cavern. The Cathedral is known for its superb acoustics, which are due to the enclosed shape and rough surface. Many famous singers, including New Zealand's own opera diva Kiri Te Kanawa, and choirs have performed here and have been delighted with the purity of the sound. The Tomo is a 16-metre vertical limestone shaft which marks the course of an ancient waterfall which today only flows during heavy rains. The dramatic vertical drop is carefully lighted to show the scalloped walls and the layers of limestone. The Tomo was the last feature of the cave to be formed and links the upper level to the Waitomo River below. A 45-min tour. Adult $53, child $24, family ticket $131.
- 2 Ruakuri Cave, 205 Ruakuri Rd, Waitomo 3985 (in the Ruakuri Scenic Reserve), ☏ , toll-free: 0800 456 922, email@example.com. From 9am daily, closed only on Christmas Day. Tours depart from 9am with the last tour at 3:30pm. Additional tours available over summer period.. Ruakuri, or 'den of dogs' as it literally translates into the English language, was first discovered by local Maori between 400 and 500 years ago. It takes its name from the wild dogs that made their home in the cave entrance. The cave entrance was used by Maori as a burial ground (wahi tapu) and it is this sacred area that has now been protected with the construction of the spiral entrance a safe distance away. A two-hour tour. Adult $76, child $30, family ticket $186.
- 3 Aranui Cave, 39 Waitomo Village Rd, Waitomo Caves (in the Ruakuri Scenic Reserve, 5 minutes drive from the Waitomo Glowworm Caves), ☏ , toll-free: 0800 456 922, firstname.lastname@example.org. From 9am daily, closed only on Christmas Day. Tours depart from 9am with the last tour at 4pm.. Named after Ruruku Aranui, the local Maori man who first discovered this hidden gem back in 1910, Aranui has a natural cave entrance and is the smallest and most delicate of Waitomo's three main caves. As a dry cave without a river running through it, it houses very little life past its entrance. However, just inside the entrance is a colony of native New Zealand cave wetas and further into the cave is the most beautiful collection of stalactites, stalagmites, flowstones and decorative formations. It is one of the most richly decorated caves in Waitomo. There is very little of the ceiling in this cave that has not been decorated by the dripping water. A 45-min tour. Adult $53, child $24, family ticket $131.
- Waitomo Caves Discovery Centre (centre of Waitomo Caves Village), toll-free: 0800474839, email@example.com. Visit to find out about all the cave tour options.
- Legendary Black Water Rafting Co Black Labyrinth, 585 Waitomo Caves Rd, Waitomo Caves, ☏ , toll-free: 0800 228 464, firstname.lastname@example.org. Open from 9am daily, 364 days a year (closed Christmas Day). Tours depart every 90 min daily from 9am with the last tour at 3pm. Additional tours available over summer period. Float down an underground river and jump off subterranean waterfalls as you admire the glowworm-studded cave interior of Ruakuri Cave, assisted by experienced and trained guides. Complimentary hot shower, hot soup and bagels follow. $150 adult, $125 youth.
- Black Water Rafting (Starts at Black Water Rafting Co.). Cave tubing or black water rafting offers an adventurous journey that falls outside the comfort zone to thrill. It involves the use of an inflated rubber inner tube as a flotation device to take you downriver. There are two black water rafting tours available: Black Labyrinth & Black Abyss. Black Labyrinth is a 3 hour cave tubing excursion through Ruakuri Caves glow worm lit underworld universe. Black Abyss, on the other hand, takes a slightly more vigorous version to the same caves by mixing abseiling, climbing and cave tubing.
- The Lost World. Abseil 100 metres through the collapsed roof of a cave to the floor below then walk through the caves, seeing glow-worms on the way. Either climb out if you are on the 4-hour trip or continue on through the stream and further caverns on the 7½-hour trip.
- 1 Huhu cafe, 10 Waitomo Caves Rd, ☏ , email@example.com. Daily noon-late. Lunch sets $30, dinner sets $40-65.
- 1 Hotel Kiwi Paka Waitomo, Hotel Access Road, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Qualmark rated 5-star quality accommodation in the heart of Waitomo Caves.
- 2 Waitomo Caves Hotel, School Access Rd, ☏ , email@example.com. School Road, Waitomo Caves Village. Imposing turn-of-the-century grandeur. Double $145, queen $155, triple $165.
- 3 Waitomo TOP10 Holiday Park, 12 Waitomo Village Rd, ☏ .
- 4 Woodlyn Park, 1177 Waitomo Valley Rd, ☏ , fax: . Novelty architecture Hobbit motel in hillside, novelty hotel rooms in a decommissioned train, aeroplane and World War II patrol boat.
Otorohanga is approximately 40 km (25 miles) northeast of Waitomo, thirty minutes by car.
- 5 Kamahi Cottage, 229 Barber Rd, Otorohanga, ☏ . Self-contained cottage accommodates up to four, kitchenette, full breakfast. Bed & breakfast on a farm with panoramic views. SMS: +64 21 055-1818. $315 single, $355 double, $45-60/person extra for two-course or three-course gourmet dinner.