Things to do in
Waitomo

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Our most recommended things to do in Waitomo

Waitomo Glowworm Caves 45-Minute Guided Tour

1. Waitomo Glowworm Caves 45-Minute Guided Tour

Embark on a unique subterranean adventure on this 45-minute guided tour of the world-famous Waitomo Glowworm Caves. The caves were formed over 30 million years ago and comprise 2 levels. The upper level is dry and includes the entrance to the cave and formations known as the Catacombs, the Pipe Organ and the Banquet Chamber. On the lower level are stream passages and the Cathedral. Begin on foot as your local guide brings the caves to life with stories about their history. Then, board a boat and marvel at the light display as you glide silently through the starry wonderland of the Glowworm Grotto.

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Waitomo Caves Black Labyrinth Black Water Rafting Experience

2. Waitomo Caves Black Labyrinth Black Water Rafting Experience

Check-in for your black water adventure in Waitomo. Your expert guide will provide equipment and instructions before you begin the subterranean journey. Take leaps of faith over cascading waterfalls and weave and climb through a glowworm-studded wonderland. After an energized trip, float serenely down the underground river. Enjoy the glow worm show on the vaulted limestone galleries up above. Ride a stream that twists and turns through a canyon, and tumble down a hidden waterfall and rock slide before emerging into the sun-dappled Waitomo forest.  The rafting base is located a short distance outside Waitomo Caves village. This is the booking and assembly point for all black water rafting expeditions. It is also the home of the Long Black Cafe, where you'll find delicious food, coffee, and friendly Kiwi service. 

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Ruakuri Cave 1.25-Hour Guided Tour

3. Ruakuri Cave 1.25-Hour Guided Tour

Explore Ruakuri Cave, New Zealand’s longest guided underground walking tour. Ruakuri Cave offers a captivating blend of Waitomo's most compelling subterranean experiences. Ruakuri Cave has displays of glowworms and is filled with beautiful stalactites and stalagmites formed over millions of years. Journey down through the spectacular spiral entrance, and marvel at the softly folding shawl-like limestone formations and crystal tapestries. Hear the distant thunder of the subterranean waterfalls and get up close to the glowworms. Major features include Holdens Cavern, named after James Holden who first opened the cave to the public, The Drum Passage, The Pretties, and The Ghost Passage. Your knowledgeable guide will bring the history, features and legends of the cave to life with their storytelling.  Many of the guides are local people whose parents and grandparents have guided in the caves. The experience will leave you open-mouthed, awe-struck and humbled by the sheer majesty of nature.

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Waitomo Caves Black Abyss Ultimate Caving Experience

4. Waitomo Caves Black Abyss Ultimate Caving Experience

The Black Abyss is the ultimate Waitomo adventure and is the caving tour of choice for natural born adrenaline junkies everywhere. Expert guides will help you descend into the black, seemingly bottomless depths of Ruakuri Cave, zipline through a gallery of illuminating glowworms, and climb underground waterfalls. Check-in for your black water adventure in Waitomo. Your guide will ensure you are properly equipped and offer some technical instruction before you descend into the underground network at Waitomo Caves. After abseiling training and practice with your guide, abseil 35-meters into the seemingly bottomless black depths of the glowworm-studded Ruakuri Cave. Your descent continues deeper with a flying fox zipline through a gallery of illuminating glowworms.  Prepare to be awed by the magnificent caves with stalactites and stalagmites that decorate the cavern walls as you traverse through the black water.  Enjoy adrenaline-fuelled fun as you clamber down, float through the canyon and scramble up waterfalls before resurfacing into daylight. At every stage, you're accompanied and supported by experienced caving guides from The Legendary Black Water Rafting Company who know and love this totally unique and mind-blowing environment. At the end of your exhilarating journey, enjoy a hot shower, hearty soup and bagel.  The rafting base is located a short distance outside Waitomo Caves village. This is the booking and assembly point for all black water rafting expeditions. It is also the home of the Long Black Cafe, where you'll find delicious food, great coffee and friendly Kiwi service. The Long Black Cafe is a great place to sit back, relax and enjoy the high energy atmosphere as excited visitors depart and arrive from their various expeditions. Internet access and merchandise are also available. 

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From Auckland: Hobbiton & Waitomo Caves Day Trip with Lunch

5. From Auckland: Hobbiton & Waitomo Caves Day Trip with Lunch

Join this tour to visit two of New Zealand's most iconic and famous attractions, the Hobbiton Movie Set and the Waitomo Glowworm Caves, in one easy small-group day trip from Auckland. After pickup from your central Auckland hotel, travel south over the Bombay Hills for panoramic views of the Waikato Region and the scenic Hauraki Plains. Arrive at The Shire's Rest in Matamata, the home of the Hobbiton Movie Set. Your guide will help you skip the crowds so you can explore the Movie Set on an official 2-hour tour. Be escorted through the 10-acre site and learn fascinating details of how the Hobbiton Movie Set was created. See Hobbit Holes, The Green Dragon Inn, and The Mill. Savor a complimentary specially-brewed beverage at The Green Dragon Inn.  Afterwards, travel to the mesmerizing Waitomo Glowworm Caves, where you'll enjoy a Kiwi-style lunch at The Homestead in Waitomo. On the way, share stories from Hobbiton and interact with your fellow travelers. Glide silently by boat in the world famous caves and be amazed by the thousands of magical glowworms. Your guide on the 45-minute tour will likely be a descendant of the Maori Chief who originally explored the Caves and can share with you the remarkable history of the area. Walk through the majestic Cathedral Cove, famous for its acoustics. The return trip takes you through some of New Zealand's most beautiful countryside before following the majestic Waikato River northwards part of the way back to Auckland. You will pass Taupiri with its very sacred Maori burial ground.  The day concludes with your return to your accommodation.

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Auckland: Hobbiton Movie Set and Waitomo Small Group Tour

6. Auckland: Hobbiton Movie Set and Waitomo Small Group Tour

The tour starts with pickup from Auckland city, where the adventure begins as you drive through the stunning Waikato countryside, the most extensive farming area in the world, on a fully guided journey to Hobbiton. Along the way, don’t forget to take advantage of the photo opportunities as you admire the stunning natural landscapes all around of beautiful mountains and farmlands. After the drive, arrive at Alexander Family Sheep Farm and Shire's Rest, the entrance to Hobbiton, and marvel at the thousands of sheep that live here. While you’re here, grab a bite to eat, a coffee, or enjoy an ice cream to cool off while your guide collects your tickets to the movie set. Next, hop on board one of the big green Hobbiton buses to depart on your two hour fully guided tour of this amazing 12-acre movie set with a professional Hobbiton guide to ensure you get the most out of your visit. During your tour trip into the lush pastures of the Shire, visit 44 hobbit holes, see amazing gardens, hear secrets and stories about the making of the movies and finish your LOTR experience with a cold beverage at the famous Hobbiton pub, The Green Dragon Inn. After your LOTR experience, it’s time to head west towards the stunning Waitomo region. Along the way admire the incredible hydro dams, beautiful farmland, race horses and the Kiwiana capital of New Zealand. Before arriving at the caves, stop by Waitomo homestead for lunch, and a little surprise too. Once in Waitomo, explore the ancient and amazing caves and marvel at the many cave formations including Stalactites, Stalagmites, and Lime Columns before descending even further underground for your Glowworm Grotto experience. Board your glow-worm boat for a cruise on the grotto river with thousands of glowworms sparkling above you. Unique to New Zealand for over 120 years, Waitomo Glowworm Caves are a must see for any traveler. On the guided trip back to Auckland the sights continue with New Zealand's longest river, Huntly power station and the Maori Queens’ burial site.

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Aranui Cave 1-Hour Guided Tour

7. Aranui Cave 1-Hour Guided Tour

Explore the ancient cave formations, high chambers and huge stalactites and stalagmites of Aranui Cave, one of Waitomo’s best kept secrets, on a guided walking tour. Set in the forest of the Ruakuri scenic reserve and just a 5 minute drive from the Waitomo Glowworm Caves, Aranui Cave is a magical, mystical place that is steeped in Maori myth and legend. It has a natural cave entrance and is the smallest and most delicate of Waitomo's three main caves. Departing from the Waitomo Glowworm Caves Visitor Centre, your tour is led by an experienced guide who will bring the history, features and legends of the cave to life with their storytelling. Enter the cave and walk along safe boardwalks into narrow chambers. Discover the colony of cave weta, large insects unique to New Zealand, just inside the entrance.  Further into the cave you will discover the spectacular high chambers, magnificent limestone formations and the pale brown, pink and white shades of the huge stalactites. Tour groups are small to provide you with an up-close and personal encounter with nature and some magical memories to take away.

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Waitomo: Glowworm Cave 3-Hour Guided Eco-Tour

8. Waitomo: Glowworm Cave 3-Hour Guided Eco-Tour

Get off the beaten track on this intimate 3-hour tour through some of New Zealand's natural wonders. Start with a brief walk through native bush and the scenic Mangapu gorge.  Hike through beautiful native New Zealand forest, wade through freshwater streams, climb over boulders, and explore untouched limestone caves and spectacular rock formations. Enjoy the mesmerizing glowworm displays in privately owned caves that remain unspoiled by paths or electric lights.  Finish up your tour with a shower, a hot cup of coffee or tea, and some light refreshments. 

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From Auckland or Rotorua: Hobbiton and Cave Rafting Day Trip

9. From Auckland or Rotorua: Hobbiton and Cave Rafting Day Trip

Get picked up from your accommodation or an agreed-upon meeting point in Auckland or Rotorua and set off for Hobbiton. Upon arrival, you'll have some time to get something to eat or explore the Shires Rest souvenir shop before joining a two-hour walking tour of the Hobbiton Movie Set, which includes a complimentary drink at the Green Dragon Inn.  Transfer to the movie set on one of the tour operator's buses and hear about how this set was used for all filming of both "The Lord of the Rings" and the "The Hobbit" movies. After the tour, take 15 minutes to relax in the Green Dragon Inn before traveling to Waitomo Caves. Between the two stops, you'll have time to enjoy your picnic lunch. At Waitomo Caves, join a group of up to 12 people on the Black Labyrinth tour, which includes cave tubing and caving in the river that runs through the bottom of the Ruakuri Cave. After arriving at the cave, you will be given a briefing on the art of cave tubing before starting your rafting excursion. Float through a glow-worm grotto, jump over small waterfalls, and enjoy other adrenalin-filled experiences. The tour runs about three hours, 1.5 of which are underground.  Rejoin the main transport for the day and travel to your drop-off destination. On some occasions, the activities may be reversed. After you have completed the final activity, you will be taken to Auckland or Rotorua. You can start and finish in the same place, or choose to make this a one-way journey beginning or ending in Auckland or Rotorua.

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From Auckland: Two-Day Rotorua, Hobbiton, Waitomo Caves Tour

10. From Auckland: Two-Day Rotorua, Hobbiton, Waitomo Caves Tour

Enjoy this overnight all-inclusive tour from Auckland and experience the Central North Island's most iconic attractions at a leisurely pace.  Take guided tours of Hobbiton and Waitomo Caves. Discover the Waiotapu Thermal Wonderland and the thermal areas and geysers of Te Puia. Experience a Maori cultural evening with a meal and concert.  At the end of the two days, you will return to your hotel in Auckland or a different location in the central area, if specified. Most of the transport is supplied in Mercedes minibuses with luxury seating. Your driver guide will take the time to make sure you enjoy your time on the tour. The largest vehicle seats 15 passengers, but on most occasions your group will be 12 people or less.

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What people are saying about Waitomo

Overall rating

4.7 / 5

based on 1,826 reviews

It's has be 40 year's since I was there awesome so quite and the light from the glow worm was amazing. Thanks

The tour was executed in a really professional manner and I was impressed with how informative it was!

Very good. We were in a small group which made easy to hear the guide talk about the caves

Was amazing to see, awesome tour guide fulled with lots of knowledge and was lots of fun

We Totally enjoyed the experience, would do it again in another cave.