Waitomo Glowworm Caves- the starry wonderland

Popularly marketed as clean green and pure, New Zealand tourism features gorgeous nature parks, adventure activities and hiking trails. Blessed with picturesque mountains, beautiful beaches and lush dense native forests, New Zealand is nothing short of a paradise. Well- preserved by the Government, the natural beauty of New Zealand is breath-taking and otherworldly. A unique mix of pristine serenity and the modernity of the cosmopolitan cities, New Zealand has something for everyone.

Finding glowworm land

One of its most popular tourist destinations, Waitomo Glowworm caves have been attracting people from all over the world for the past century. With a population of less than 300, Waitomo is a tiny town full of mystic caves and rivers. Amongst the fifty kilometers of caves in this region, the most popular caves are the Waitomo Glowworm caves. As the name suggests, the Waitomo Glowworm which live in these mysterious and awe-inspiring caves are the major attraction. It is situated just outside the main Waitomo township on New Zealand’s North Island and 12 kilometres northwest of Te Kuiti. It is not very far from the major cities of New Zealand, with not more than 2 hours from the city of Auckland and one hour south of Hamilton. The cave belongs to the Waitomo cave system which also includes two other popular caves, the Aranui cane and the Ruakuri cave.

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How it all began

Waitomo finds its origin in the ethnic Maori language. Brought to New Zealand by the mythical Hawaiki, Maori is one of the official languages of New Zealand. The maori words Wai which means ‘water’ and tomo which translates to ‘hole’ make up waitomo  . The local people had discovered the caves a long time ago, but its extensive exploration was done in 1887. Done by the Maori chieftaim Tane Tinorau and an English surveyor Fred Mace, travelling on a raft through the underground stream, the caves were explored with candlelight. It was only after several attempts that the current upper level entrance was discovered. This beautiful specimen of nature was opened in 1889 by the Maori chief and his wife to visitors and was taken over by the government in 1906, due to reported vandalism in these parts.

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The magic of Mother Nature

The Waitomo Glowworm or the Arachnocampa luminosa, which are as small as a mosquito are native to New Zealand. Surprisingly, they are not really glowworms at all, but are fly larvae. The ethereal glow which lines the ceiling of the caves is actually their waste and snot. They glow to attract prey into their threads to create the illusion of the outdoors with their glow creating a starry night.  This beautiful vision along with the beautiful cave is what makes the caves so popular. The ancient underground limestone caves are decorated with gorgeous stalactites and stalagmites. Created due to the dripping of water, there are several natural and spectacular crystalline structures in the cave too.

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Admiring in different ways

There are several different tours of this place, and each with its own appeal. One of the most popular ways is the boat trip in the glow-worm   grotto. Experience pure wonder as you watch these intriguing creatures glowing in the dark labyrinths of the cave, creating a sight you will never forget. If you are looking for adventure as well, the tubing trip and abseiling and climbing trip. The tubing trip starts off with a short trek to the caves and then the descent into the cave through tunnels and the underground stream. The most challenging part of the tube trip is the waterfall jumps, and all this while you are wearing a tube to keep you floating.

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