Waitomo Glowworm Caves

Waitomo Glowworm Caves

The Waitomo Glowworm Caves makes the Nort Island of New Zealand more appealing than ever. The mesmerizing sight includes thousands of glowworms glimmering in the dark caves of Waitomo.  They are known as New Zealand's natural highlights.


The Waitomo Glowworm Caves were first explored in 1887 by local Maori Chief Tane Tinorau and English surveyor Fred Mace.  The local Maori people knew about the caves but Tane and Mace were the first ones to thoroughly explore them. They entered the stream that goes underground with nothing but a raft of flax stems they had built and candles as their only lighting.  

When they first entered the Glowworm Grotto, their eyes had to adjust to the darkness.  As this happened they saw a "sea" of lights reflected on the water.  As they looked up, they discovered that the ceiling was decorated by the lights of thousands of glowworms. 

They returned many times to further explore the cave.  On an independent trip, Chief Tane Tinorau discovered the cave's upper level and an easier access.  After many subsequent visits to the cave, they discovered an entry point on land, which is the same one tourists take today. As visitors increased, Chief Tane and his wife Huti escorted visitors for a small fee. In 1906, the government took over the administration of the cave. 

The Glowworm Caves today

Today, the caves are a major attraction for anyone visiting New Zealand's northern island.  The cave administration went back to descendants of the original owners.  Many staff members are direct descendants of Chief Tane and his wife Huti. 

The caves are constantly being monitored by a Scientific Advisory Group who determines the best conditions for the cave. The group is constantly monitoring for carbon dioxide, rock and air temperatures, and humidity. 

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