a little adventurous and in need of something special?
then the perfect spot for you to visit is Waitomo where
you can discover wonderful subterraenean limestone structures
and the world-famous Waitomo glow worms.
Waitomo is a couple of hours south of Auckland and not far
from the quiet town of Te Kuiti - well known for not having
a traffic light or cinema.
adventure begins when you have to head down underground
into a cave complex - but don't worry, there is low-level
lighting and all but the most claustrophobic tourist will
complete the journey with ease.
caves were discovered more than 100 years ago when a couple
of local fellows followed a stream underground. They thought
there was something in their find and so explored and mapped
it over a number of years.
There are two main caves - the Glow Worm and the Aranui
- the latter offers some of the finest limestone rock formations
around. The limestone in the caves was formed up to 30 million
years ago yet today you can still see formations being created.
Drops containing limestone dribble through the cave roof
and down the walls leave deposits of limestone crystals
that continue to build up as either stalactites (that hang
from the ceiling) or stalagmites (that grow from the cave
There are various chambers within the cave system with interesting
formations to look at - including an elephant's head - and
you can also get to sing in an accoustically pure area known
as the Cathedral.
opera diva Dame Kiri Te Kanawa once sang in the Cathedral
because the accoustics are so perfect. Guides will ask you
to do your bit, but no one stepped forward on our tour.
highlight of the journey underground has to be visiting
the Glow Worm Grotto.
little brutes don't like a lot of noise so you need to stay
pretty quiet so you hop in large boats that get hauled around
the underground stream and get to view the spectacular display.
They light up the darkened areas like stars and the boat
trip through the cave is like being out in space. It is
course, the romantic image of Glow Worms is somewhat shattered
by the excellent guides who take great delight in telling
you that they are not worms at all but rather maggots and
the lights are their bottoms shining to attract prey. Never
Waitomo Caves are terrific to visit and the guides take
tour parties around every half hour or so.