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Oceania > New Zealand > North Island > Waikato > Waitomo
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Waitomo is a locality in the North Island of New Zealand whose main feature is its limestone caves and their glowworm inhabitants, a major tourist attraction.

Get in

Waitomo Caves is located between Otorohanga and Te Kuiti. It is 15 minutes drive (18 km) north of Te Kuiti, 1 hour (75 km) south of Hamilton, 2.5 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 located 7 km up SH 37.

GreatSights operates premium sightseeing tours daily from either Auckland or Rotorua and Grayline does a deluxe version of this tour - Grayline Tours

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 currently 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!

Get around

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 or the Naked Bus stops daily for other options. 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. Self drives are able to enjoy more activities further afield from the Village.


The Cathedral in the Waitomo Glowworm Caves
  • 1 Waitomo Glowworm Caves. The world famous Waitomo Glowworm Caves are one of New Zealand's top tourist attractions, located just outside the Waitomo Village, easy to find and within easy reach of all local accommodation. It is home to the famous Waitomo glowworms, Arachnocampa luminosa, tiny creatures that radiate their luminescent light. Formed over 30 million years ago, Waitomo Glowworm Caves have majestic and ornate cave decorations, 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 one of the wonders of Waitomo, 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.
  • 2 Ruakuri Cave. 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. Ruakuri cave is situated in the Ruakuri Scenic Reserve. Newly reopened after an interval of 18 years.
  • 3 Aranui Cave (In the Ruakuri Scenic Reserve, 5 minutes drive from the Waitomo Glowworm Caves.). Named after Ruruku Aranui, the local Maori man who first discovered this previously 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.
  • Waitomo Caves Discovery Centre (Centre of Waitomo Caves Village), toll-free: 0800474839, . See here for all your cave tour options


  • Black Water Rafting. 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 down river. Booking and assembly point for all Black Water Rafting expeditions are done in The Legendary Black Water Rafting Co. HQ located a short distance outside Waitomo Caves village. The Legendary Black Water Rafting Co. is New Zealand's first black water adventure operator and has achieved an unblemished safety record over many years. 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 7 1/2 hour trip.



  • 1 HUHU cafe, 10 Waitomo Caves Rd.
  • Roselands Restaurant Waitomo Caves (Roselands), 579 Fullerton Road,Waitomo Caves (Turn left onto Fullerton Road just before Waitomo Caves Village, drive 3km and turn right at the big Roselands sign under the tree. Follow a long white drive way around to the left until you reach the bush at the top where there is a large car park.), +6478787611, . 9am - Late pm. BBQ + Buffet Restaurant, Gift Shop, Award-winning Gardens, Family Activities, Function venue, Team Building, Accommodation and FREE Campervan parking all on 20 acres of rural property with native woodlands. See website for full details. Roselands is New Zealand's first Qualmarked restaurant visitor experience. Roselands offers premium meat portions cooked on the BBQ just how you like it with a buffet of fresh home-made salads, sauces, bread and rice. A dessert buffet of home-made traditional New Zealand cookies and our ever popular carrot cake are available afterwards with tea and coffee. Roselands can accommodate anywhere from 1-300 persons in one sitting. Specialising in large group catering but walk-ins are most welcome. Offering fast and effecient service is our goal. You are able to begin your meal as soon as you walk in, or you can enjoy the experience of the BBQ with the BBQ chefs and interact with them as they cook your meat order. Roselands provides a genuinely New Zealand BBQ experience in a little slice of New Zealand paradise. Surrounded by nature and farm land Roselands is something that little bit different for a unique dining experience. Get back to nature while you are here and enjoy exploring the bush paths and award-winning gardens. Plenty of bird watching opportunities or get up-close and pet the friendly farm animals with some of the family attractions here. We offer free campervan parking overnight to fully self-contained campers. But you are also welcome to park up for the day here and enjoy the surroundings. The restaurant is open til late each night with bar facilities (cheap drinks from 4pm daily) and FREE wifi for customers. We do a buffet dinner of Beef Casserole, roasties and rice for just $10pp from 6-8pm daily. And have a snack menu available from $2-$8. Open 365 days of the year. $0-$40.


  • Roselands Restaurant Waitomo Caves (Roselands Bar), 579 Fullerton Road, Waitomo Caves (Turn left onto Fullerton Road before Waitomo Caves Village. After 3km turn right at the big Roselands sign under the trees. Follow a long white driveway around to the left to the top of the hill to the trees. The restaurant is hidden amongst the trees.), +6478787611, . 9am - late pm. Roselands bar is a cool place to hang out any time of the year. Hang out in the lounge area with free wifi in winter, or hang out on the decks surrounded by native woods and beautiful gardens in summer. Enjoy a game of tennis on the lawn tennis court, free to use any time. DAILY SPECIAL: $5 house beer and wines from 4pm Daily. Softdrinks $3.50, a good selection of NZ beers and wines available as well as spirits starting from $7. $10 Beef casserole dinner from 6-8pm Daily, or a snack menu available from $2-$8 with munchies and hot foods. from $3.50.


  • Roselands Restaurant Waitomo Caves (Roselands Chalet), 579 Fullerton Road (Turn left onto Fullerton Road just before Waitomo Caves Village. After 3km turn right at the big Roselands sign under the trees. Follow the big white driveway to the left to the very top into the trees.), +6478787611, . Check-in: 12.30am, check-out: 10.00am. Looking for a unique kiwi experience? Eat some traditional kiwi cuisine? Want to meet real New Zealanders? Roselands Restaurant, Waitomo Caves has it's very own private chalet so you can stay and enjoy a peaceful nights sleep and be cosy and comfortable. Roselands is family orientated with lots of fun activities on-site plus a BBQ Buffet Restaurant with real kiwi cuisine. See website for more information and menus. Fall in love with Roselands relaxed atmosphere. Surrounded by farm animals and nature, relax and enjoy a little slice of a real kiwi experience. Private and secure. Only one chalet available so book well in advance! Unit Details: Suitable to sleep one couple and two singles. This tidy little unit is fully self-contained with a toilet, shower, kitchenette, electric fry pan (no stove) fridge/freezer, microwave, 50” Flatscreen TV, Blu-ray player, Free to air Satellite TV, Tea and Coffee making facilities, Queen bed, King Single and roll-away. Necessities supplied. Situated on an elevated site between the Restaurant and homestead the unit is safe and secure with ample parking for large campers, perfect for extended family holidays. $100 per couple, $15 per extra person.


Waitomo offers a range of accommodation options for its many local and overseas visitors.


Otorohanga is approximately 40 km (25 miles) northeast of Waitomo, thirty minutes by car.

  • Woodlyn Park, 1177 Waitomo Valley Rd, Otorohanga, +64 7 878-6666, fax: +64 7 878-8866. Novelty architecture Hobbit motel in hillside, novelty hotel rooms in a decommissioned train, aeroplane and WWII patrol boat. $285.
  • Kamahi Cottage, 229 Barber Rd, Otorohanga, +64 7 873-0849. 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.

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