Waitomo Caves are a popular tourist destination in New Zealand. Waitomo Caves System includes Waitomo Glow Worm Cave, Ruakuri Cave and the Aranui Cave. The visitors to the Glow Worm Caves get to delight their eyes with a boat ride in a glow worm illuminated cave. What makes these caves a spectacular sight are glow worms that illuminate the dark caves. Get to know some fun facts about the Waitomo Caves.
Waitomo is located southeast of the Waikato region on the North Island of New Zealand.
The worm, Arachnocampa luminosa, can only be found in New Zealand- that’s why it is commonly known as the “New Zealand fluorescent worm.”
The Maori name of these worms is “titiwai“, which means “projected on water”. They are named so, due to their reflection in the water inside the caves in which they are found.
Waitomo Caves derive their name from the Maori words, “wai” (water) and “tome” (hole). The caves were created by thousands of years of constantly flowing underground water that carved the limestone rocks, thus creating grottos.
The bioluminescent worms that light up these caves
The insects that glow are the larvae of the luminous worm Arachnocampa luminosa. It is a worm native to New Zealand and is the one that creates this effect of another world.
These larvae secrete threads that glow in order to attract and catch their prey. The silks can measure 30 cm and are covered with a mucus secretion, in which insects are stuck.
How these caves were discovered
The caves were first discovered in 1887 by the Maori Chief Tane Tinorau and British surveyor, Fred Mace. The caves were opened to tourists in the late 19th century.
The caves are closely guarded and protected by a Scientific Advisory Group.
Ruakuri and Aranui Caves
Ruakuri caves are another tourist destination and a part of the Waitomo Caves network. The caves present a sight of draped stalactites underneath the glowing worms.
Aranui caves consist of unique limestone shapes made over time, while the ceilings are covered with stalactites.
How long does it take to see Waitomo Glow Worm Caves?
It takes about 45 minutes to see the Waitomo Glow Worm Caves. Visitors can opt for boat rides, zip lines, and hikes through the caves.