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Wormy caves at Waitomo

Added: May 31, 2010

Tags: NewZealand RTW cave photos
New Zealand can offer an interesting attraction to tourists - glow worm caves. Imagine sitting in a boat inside dark cave with zillions of bright turquoise dots above you, reflecting in peaceful water around you. You don't need to imagine that. You can see that in Glowworm Cave at Waitomo and to have more "hands-on experience" also in Ruakuri Cave nearby.

I've been to many caves before, but these still could offer me something new. We bought triple cave combo tickets online to see all caves opened to public in Waitomo. (The third one was Aranui Cave without worms). It is also possible to do black water rafting in Ruakuri Cave, but we opted not to.

Ruakuri Cave

Our first cave was Ruakuri Cave. We went there at 9am. After registering at The Legendary Black Water Rafting Company we got into micro and were taken to entry. We were only 6 in our group plus our guide Snappy. It felt like a private tour.

Main entrance looks like from Sci-Fi movie, thanks to its spiralling ramp.

Outside of Ruakuri Cave.
Entrance to Ruakuri Cave at Waitomo

I am giving A to an architect of this ramp.
Entrance to Ruakuri Cave at Waitomo


After passing through steel passageway that was originally used to drill this entrance we got to the cave. No glow worms yet, but sinter decoration is there from start (this was not original entrance). And we were allowed to take photos!

The most of the photos I am going to show you are with original lightning without flash. My flash photos were worse, only advantage was it provided sometimes better colours. But they missed the depth.

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Then we got to glow worms. They were not on the ceiling, but on the side, quite close. Snappy lighted them with a flashlight to show them in better light. Following photos don't show the worms, just their saliva "tentacles" used for catching prey that is attracted with their light. Of course the light is not visible under flashlight.

Later we got to place with more worms on ceiling, but this time we were not allowed to take photos (because they need dark for their well being). Interestingly, we met a group of black rafters bellow us later and we were not allowed to take photos of them too :-)

glow worms in a cave

tentacles of glow worms in a cave

glow worms in a cave

We have been in this cave for about 2 hours. It is quite a long time, not many caves take so long with so small group. Maybe taking photographs in poor light and my insufficient skills slowed us down :-)

When we were leaving we met next group. There were about 20 people in it. I cannot imagine taking photos of worms in such a crowd. We were pretty lucky with out timing.

Whole area seems to be created from similar formations we have seen at Pancake rocks. But maybe the similarity is coincidental.

This cave was originally under sea, it was lifted about 35mil years ago and running water finished it to present form.


Glowworm Cave

Our next cave was Glowworm Cave. As the name suggests the main point in visiting this cave is based on millions of tiny creatures illuminating ceiling of the cave. We could see sinter decoration only in the beginning, it was quite dark later on. The final part in boat at underground river was in complete dark. And it was the best. Serenity of place, looking up to Milky Way formed by glowworms was really strong experience. It is pity whole cave is quite short, only 800m. And of course it is prohibited to take photos.

Exit from Glowworm Cave
Exit from Glowworm Cave

On surface

We did not spend all time bellow the surface. Before we went to Aranui cave we had some spare time and we went to check surroundings. It was quite nice there.



Aranui Cave

Afternoon we visited Aranui Cave. We could take photos again, but big group of people did not make it easy. This one has the nicest decoration from all three caves here, but it was not as colourful as the most of caves in Slovakia are.

Before we started our tour we got special photo experience. A guide brought 2 photographers who were there to make new round of promotional materials about the cave. And they asked us to sign model release. Of course we refused! I don't want to be smiling at the back of local buses. Not to mention I ruin nearly every photo I am at :-) But common sense prevailed and they picked somebody better suiting for an advertisement.


Sinter decoration inside Aranui Cave at Waitomo

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Inside Aranui Cave at Waitomo

Inside Aranui Cave at Waitomo