The Waitomo Caves tour options will appeal to most travellers – no matter what age or fitness level you have. If your New Zealand itinerary covers the North Island, then a visit to Waitomo is a must-do. It’s one of New Zealand key natural attractions. Actually, the Waitomo Caves are 30 million years old and an important scenic highlight. As this blog describes, you can explore the caves in a number of ways.
The Waitomo region sits in the central part of the North Island. So no matter where you happen to be based in the North Island, it doesn’t take very long to get there. In fact, its only a 3-hour drive from south of Auckland and 2 hours west of Rotorua. However, I would strongly suggest that to save time, you’re best to travel from Auckland via Waitomo to Rotorua.
Waitomo Region – Google Map
Waitomo Caves tours – The Classics
The ‘classic option’ is very popular with a lot of international travellers. That’s because is only a 45-minute guided tour. You’ll be walking with quite a large group of people, but it is the perfect ‘taster’. And its a great option if you happen to be on a tight schedule time-wise. However, you do have the option of adding the ‘Aranui’ cave tour to the ‘classic option.
A major highlight for any of the Waitomo Caves tour options is viewing those unique Glowworms (Arachnocampa luminosa) There are literally thousands of these tiny creatures living in the Waitomo caves. Their luminescent light these glowworms create, is really beautiful – you’ll feel as though you’re in a galaxy of stars. Guides are on hand to provide a great commentary – and a Boat Ride is included. Anyone who says that these are magical moments, is not exaggerating. Mother Nature is really something to behold. There is a golden silence as boat glides gently through. I guarantee you’ll never forget the serenity of those moments.
Waitomo’s Ruakuri Cave Guided tour
Now, the 2-hour Ruakuri Cave tour is a totally different tour to that of the Classic cave option. First of all, you’ll be in a much smaller group. In fact, there is never more than 18 people at any one time. And what this means, is that you’ll get a far better interaction with your guide. Another helpful thing to know, is that the Ruakuri Caves have a full wheelchair and pushchair access! Everyone gets to go!
With the Ruakuri Cave, you’ll get the very best of Waitomo’s highlights. There is an absolutely spectacular spiral entrance, not to mention the limestone and crystal formations. Of course the ‘icing on the cake, is how close you’re going to get to those beautiful glowworms!
Ruakuri Cave is New Zealand’s longest guided underground walking tour and an experience that must be seen to be believed. Visitors are awed by the sheer majesty of nature. The tour runs every half hour during the summer season. But, especially when Waitomo Caves is a stop for you, make sure to book ahead. That way you can avoid disappointment on able to secure a seat at short notice.
Thrilling Black Water Rafting Waitomo
Black Water Rafting is recognised as the original Waitomo subterranean adventure. It’s one of New Zealand key natural attractions with a lot of thrill and adventure attached. It was introduced back in the mid-1980’s as “Black Water Rafting”. These days, you can actually get a this type of tour option with two different companies – Waitomo Discoveries (with the ‘Black Labyrinth‘ trip) and Waitomo Adventures (with the ‘TumuTumu‘ tour).
Both trips will take you around 3 hours. Neopren wetsuits and helmets will be provided. The journey ends when you emerge into the sunlight of the Waitomo forest. But be warned, you will get wet! It’s always amazing to see how many travellers in the older age group love this tour. We had a couple in their 70’s going right back for a second tour on the same day!
Lost World Abseiling caving tour Waitomo
If you’re looking for an ‘expedition’, then this caving tour would be the perfect fit. It can be done as a 4 hour or 7 hour trip. However, if you’re afraid of heights, this option is probably not going to suit you. However the tour is suitable for complete novices. But, you will need to have a moderate fitness level and of course, a spirit of adventure. For the 7-hour Lost World trip, you’ll have to stay in the area overnight. Here are some accommodation options.
Other caving options are Haggas Hokking Holes, St. Benedict’s Caverns. In Waitomo you have 3-4 key tour operators running the caving trips.
Other attractions in the Waitomo Caves region
This region is a real ‘treasure box’ full of goodies. Forest Walks and hikes, Lord of the Rings, Hobbiton and surfing at Raglan. All these attractions are very close by to each other. So you might want to consider staying 2-3 nights. That way, you’ll definitely get a more in-depth experience of the Waitomo Caves region. What to do in Waitomo.
Helpful New Zealand travel links
- Best way to plan a holiday to New Zealand
- Clothing for travelling New Zealand
- What is the best time to visit New Zealand
- Getting around New Zealand (car, coach, flights)
- Other travel hints for New Zealand
Happy travelling in the Waitomo region!
Wow this looks amazing – what a wonderful adventure and great memories to take home from NZ. My North Island to do list is getting longer and longer…..
It is great having so many options for everyone’s fitness and comfort level. Personally, I’d love to abseil – a bit out of my comfort zone I know…ok, maybe the boat trip..