Waitomo New Zealand is a unique destination, located in the North Island of New Zealand. The area boasts an unspoiled cave and karst landscape, covered with a vast expanse of farmland and forestry. The tranquil region is less than three hours drive South of Auckland, the country’s largest city and two hours drive West of Rotorua, the cultural heartland of New Zealand.
Home to a small population of 300 people and a minute number of shops and facilities, Waitomo can easily be perceived as a sleepy village. However, in reality more than 500,000 tourists visit the area annually and tourism has rapidly replaced farming as the most significant economic activity. Increased visitation to the region is due to the presence of an incomparable world, which can only be encountered by venturing beneath the earth’s surface.
Underneath Waitomo stretches 50kms of cave passage. These caves are part of a unique karst limestone landscape sculpted by water into blind valleys, sinkholes, springs, arches and fluted rock outcrops.
Farmland also forms a majestic part of the landscape, with an abundance of rich pastures and rolling green hills encompassing the region. A backdrop of bush clad forests, interesting rock formations and farmyard animals create a peaceful environment, which is intriguing to the eye and provides an insight into New Zealand’s rich agricultural heritage.
Transportation & Accommodation
Numerous tour buses and shuttles provide daily passenger service to Waitomo.These include coachlines Newmans and Scenic Tours, backpacker networks Kiwi Experience and Magic Bus and small shuttles like the Waitomo Wanderer. Other options are Trans Scenic, Rental Cars, Motorhomes or Campervans and off-the-track tours like the Flying Kiwi.
There are a number of accommodation establishments in Waitomo ranging from hotels to backpackers. These include Juno Hall Backpackers, Waitomo Kiwipaka YHA, Waitomo Guest Lodge, Waitomo Top 10 Holiday Park and the Waitomo Hotel. Alternatively why not complete your experiences in Waitomo with a unique stay at Woodlyn Park in a self contained 1950’s railcar, furnished to cater for up to six guests as well as a Bristol Frieghter Aeroplane which sleeps up to 10 guests. There are a number of Bed & Breakfast establishments such as The Abseil Inn, Te Tiro Farmstays, Valley View and Big Bird Bed and Breakfast.
Waitomo Activities & Attractions
Waitomo is a small township offering two exciting landscapes – one beneath the earth and the other above. ‘Two landscapes twice the fun’. Whatever your experience, you are sure to be captivated with all that Waitomo has to offer, so enjoy.
Blackwater Cave Rafting & Abseiling Adventures
Blackwater Rafting is a unique cave tubing experience offering fun, mystery and adventure. Visitors venture underground with a professional guide and a rubber tube, to float through and navigate spectacular caves. Prepare to be awe-inspired by the spectacular natural occurring cave decorations and the magical light of the glowworms.
Waitomo Adventures Ltd has fantastic blackwater rafting, cave abseiling and tubing tours suitable for all ages and levels. Enjoy the excitement of waterfalls and hours of fun with professional guides and full training provided before you float, swim, abseil and walk through spectacular caves illuminated by the light of glow worms.
Waitomo Glowworm Cave
Enjoy a 45 minute tour of the spectacular Glowworm Cave. Walk through and marvel at the amazing cave decorations before venturing on a boat tour through the Glowworm Grotto, where you have the opportunity to view thousands of glowworms in close proximity. Knowledgeable guides give an informative commentary.
Afterwards, include a visit to the awe-inspiring Aranui Cave, which boasts spectacular speleothems or cave decorations.
Waitomo Caves Horse Treks
Experience the excitement and outdoor adventure of Waitomo Cave Horse Treks. View the beautiful Waitomo country side from horse back. Limestone formations, fossils, native bus, dogs, sheep, cattle are all part of this wonderful experience. Best of all are the awesome views! Whether you are a complete novice or a budding lone ranger, there are a variety of horses to cater to the needs of all. Equipment is provided with ride durations lasting from one or two hours to full day and up to three day treks.
Waitomo Museum of Caves
Waitomo’s award winning Museum of Caves provides fascinating information on caves, the Waitomo Caves area and also includes exciting displays. A magnificent half multi media show runs regularly each day.
The Museum of Caves is also the official I-site Information Centre, where visitors can book for most local attractions such as, Waitomo Horse Treks, Waitomo Big Red 4×4 motorbikes, Waitomo Glowworm Cave, Aranui Cave, The Woodlyn Park Kiwi Culture show and Jetboat Rides, Altura Park, as well as transportation and accommodation in the local area and anywhere in New Zealand.
Waitomo Golf Course is considered one of the most scenic in New Zealand. The eighteen hole course offers peaceful green rolling fairways, lake holes and bunkers for the adventurous golfer. Clubrooms are located onsite for ‘after match’ refreshments. The course is situated a short ten minute drive from Waitomo Caves and the adjacent towns of Te Kuiti and Otorohanga.
Woodlyn Park, portraying a ‘real Kiwi farming atmosphere’, is situated 700 metres from Waitomo village. The Kiwi Culture Show, (performed daily) is a unique farm show, which gives an insight into the past and present day agriculture in New Zealand. Discover and learn about various tools used in the farming trade during the late 1800s and early 1900s, enjoy the aspects of audience participation and meet a variety of talented farm animals including pigs, cows, sheep, dogs, roosters and the famous New Zealand Kiwi bear. The show is approximately one hour in duration and is extremely informative and very hilarious.
The Waitomo Walkway is a loop track taking approximately three hours to complete. The track can be divided into three shorter walks, each different in character. The last section of the walk is extremely spectacular and features the Ruakuri Natural Bridge and magnificent glow worm displays, which are noticeable by night.
Opapaka walk takes approximately 45 minutes to complete and features an ancient Pa site (including an onsite interpretation), beautiful views and informative information concerning the medicinal uses of surrounding native trees.
The Ruakuri Natural Bridge is renowned as one of New Zealand’s top short walks. Taking 45 minutes to complete the loop, the walk offers untouched, native bush and unique glowworm displays.
A scenic drive West takes you to the Mangapohue Natural Limestone Bridge, the rushing waters of the Marokopa Falls and the Piripiri Cave. Marokopa Beach offers excellent fishing, black iron-rich sands and rugged surf.
All walks are controlled by the Department of Conservation, which also provides on-site interpretation.
The Shearing Shed
Angora rabbits, imported from Germany, are shorn daily at the only rabbit shearing shed in New Zealand. Commentaries are available in English, French, Japanese and Spanish. Experience the opportunity to hold one of these cuddly creatures or simply take photographs.
The adjoining shop specialises in angora fibre products ranging from duvets and knitting yarns to soft angora sweaters. A great selection of New Zealand made shirts, wool sweaters and leather garments compliment a large variety of goods available for purchase at the Shearing Shed.