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Sail through the Waitomo Glowworm Caves and bask in the beauty of twinkling glow-worms
If you thought you’d never pay to see insects, the beautiful creatures at Waitomo might just change your mind.
The name Waitomo is derived from the Maori words “wai” and “tomo”, which mean “water” and “hole” respectively but these caves aren’t just simply watering holes. Instead, they contain a complex system of underground rivers and the Arachnocampa luminosa, also known as the New Zealand glow-worm.
A boat ride is perhaps one of the best ways to enjoy the remarkable sights at the Waitomo Caves, a solutional cave system made of limestone that formed over 30 million years. Some guides will sing lilting and beautiful Maori songs as your boat drifts slowly down the underground Waitomo river, creating a unique and captivating atmosphere.
The roof of the cave can look surprisingly like a starry night sky, with the light emanating from the glow-worms resembling the iridescence of the cosmos.
Black water rafting is another activity that you absolutely must not miss during your visit to the Waitomo Caves. Not for the faint of heart, the activity involves swimming and crawling through passages, allowing you to get closer to the glow-worms than you would on a boat ride.
You can even zip down a flying fox or even abseil through the darkness and climb up rushing waterfalls for a surge of adrenaline like no other. Do note that these activities require you to be at least 45kg due to safety requirements.
Waitomo is located in the Northern King Country region of the North Island of New Zealand and is easily accessible by rail or shuttle. The caves are located just outside the main Waitomo township. Auckland is a three-hour drive away.
Two other caves you may want to visit during your stay in Waitomo include the Ruakuri Cave and the Aranui Cave.
The former, a sacred ground, has an entrance that was previously used as a burial ground.
The latter is one of the most luxuriously decorated caves in New Zealand, adorned by Mother Nature with stalagmites (icicle shaped formations created from the pre-cipitate of minerals dripping through a cave ceiling), flowstones and other decorative formations.
At least once in your life, you have to experience the mystical paradise of Waitomo.
For more information on the tours available, visit www.waitomo.com.
By Samantha Phey
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