Waitomo Caves Waikato Region North Island New Zealand

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The Waitomo Caves are a series of ancient underground caverns, a subterranean world of limestone formations and a galaxy of living lights. Located off state highway 3, south of Otorohanga, 8km along Waitomo Caves Road. Waitomo is also a district in the southwest of the Waikato region in the North Island of New Zealand.

The Waitomo Districts limestone cave systems are well renowned and have attracted millions of visitors from around the world, for the past 100 years. Each of the caves offer professional guides, which are fully trained and full of interesting information about the caves and the local history.

The most popular cave is the Glowworm Cave. On the guided tour of this cave, visitors pass through three sub-terrain levels, through caverns with names like the Banquet Chamber, the Pipe Organ and the Cathedral. On the lower level, a short boat trip on the Waitomo River, without lights will expose the millions of glow-worms hanging from the roof of the cave. The 45 minute guided tour conveys an informative commentary of the areas natural history and Maori legends, within this stunning environment.

In 1910 a local Maori named Ruruka Aranui stumbled across the Aranui cave system whilst hunting pigs in this area. The Aranui Cave is located in the Ruakuri Scenic Reserve, 5 minutes drive from the Waitomo Glowworm Caves. This spectacular cave has limestone and coral formations. There is a series of walkways through some amazing scenery. The Cathedral here is 20 metres high. There are several stalactites over six metres long. This is a dry cave, so the only permanent inhabitants are the Native Giant Cave Wetas.

The Ruakuri Cave (dogs den), also in the Ruakuri Scenic Reserve, is a living cave, as it is still in construction. There is water dripping everywhere as stalactites and stalagmites are still being formed. There is a river running through this cave, that is used for black water rafting. This cave also has glow-worms and some interesting fossils.

For the adventurers, there is the magnificent Mangapu Cave. The visit to this cave starts with a 100 metre abseil down the limestone cavern into a magical world of stalactites and stalagmites, underground waterfalls, underground sculptures, fossils, and the famous galaxies of Waitomo glow-worms. This cave has the deepest commercial decent in the world, but is made safe by the professional guides who supply all of the equipment and show you how to safely navigate this subterranean world.

Mason's Caves are one of the finest limestone cave systems in New Zealand, rivalling the better known Waitomo caves. The caves feature outstanding limestone formations and a glow-worm grotto.

Other Waitomo Activities include 4 wheel motor bike rides over dairy country into the rugged forests of this district. There are also horse treks throughout the region, which are a great way to get an insight into the unique lifestyle here. The regions spectacular natural landmarks are also taken in on one of the many Department of Conservation walking tracks. Slow down a bit and take in the local history at the Waitomo Museum. Check out the stunning Marokopa Falls and walk the Waitomo walkway.

There is accommodation in the 100 year old Waitomo Hotel. Te Kuiti 12 km away has hotels, motels and a camping ground. There are numerous bed and breakfasts, homestays and farmstays throughout the region. The best way to explore this area is with a campervan or motorhome, staying at one of the many DOC campsites, set in natural park like surroundings.

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