The Waitomo Caves tour options will probably suit most peope – no matter what age or fitness level. If your New Zealand itinerary covers the North Island, then a visit to Waitomo is a must-do. You’ll find the Waitomo area sits pretty much in the central North Island. Its very accessible, no matter where you’re based. It’s only 3 hours south of Auckland and 2 hours west of Rotorua. However, to save time, its best to travel ex Auckland via Waitomo to Rotorua.
Waitomo Caves tour options – Map
Waitomo Caves tour options – The Classics
A lot of international travellers opt to do the Waitomo Glowworm Caves tour. This one is a 45-minute guided tour . Okay, the groups are larger, but it is the perfect ‘taster’ – especially if you’re time-short. You can add the ‘Aranui’ cave to this tour as a combo option.
A major highlight is viewing those unique Glowworms (Arachnocampa luminosa) There are literally thousands of these tiny creatures living in the Waitomo caves. They radiate luminescent light to create a starlit galaxy. Guides are on hand to provide a great commentary – and a Boat Ride is included. To be totally surrounded by Mother Nature’s light display is a magical moment – the silence is golden as your boat gently glides along. I guarantee you’ll never forget the serenity of those moments.
Waitomo Caves tour options – Ruakuri Cave Guided tour
The 2-hour Ruakuri Cave tour is a totally different experience to the Classic cave tour options. First of all, you’ll be in a group with a much number. In fact, there’s a maximum of only 18 people. Plus you’ll get a far better interaction with the guide. Another helpful fact, is that the Ruakuri Caves have full wheelchair and pushchair access! It’s actually a great combo. You’ll get the best Waitomo’s subterranean highlights. These include the spectacular spiral entrance, the limestone formations and crystal tapestries. Of course the ‘icing on the cake, is how close you’ll 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.
Black Water Rafting Waitomo
This is the original Waitomo subterranean adventure that was introduced in the mid-1980’s as “Black Water Rafting”. These days, you can actually have a number of tour options with two different companies – Waitomo Discoveries (with the ‘Black Labyrinth‘ trip) and Waitomo Adventures (with the ‘TumuTumu‘ tour).
Both trips take around 3 hours. Neopren wetsuits and helmets will be provided. But be warned, you will get wet! The journey ends when you emerge into the sunlight of the Waitomo forest.
Lost World Abseiling caving tour Waitomo
This caving tour is perfect for travellers wanting to go more of an ‘expedition’. It can be done as a 4 hour or 7 hour trip. However, these are not suitable if you have a fear of heights! Although the tour is intended for complete novices, a moderate fitness level and an adventurous spirit is required. For the 7 hour Lost World trip, you’ll need to stay in the area overnight. Here are some accommodation options.
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.