Waitomo Caves

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From spectacular underground caves to the wild coast, Waitomo and its surrounding landscape offer an experience that is unlike any other.

Destination Waitomo

The magical underground world of Waitomo can be found just an hour south of Hamilton. This is a land of immense beauty and variety as rolling hills, unspoilt native forest and rich farmland gives way to glowworm filled subterranean limestone caverns.

Magical caving experiences

Waitomo sits atop a caving paradise formed naturally over millions of years, creating an utterly unique underground world unlike anything most people have ever experienced. 

Adventure on bush walks to explore open caves, enjoy guided cave tours through Ruakiri Cave and Aranui Cave, glide on underground boat rides through the radiant grottos of the Waitomo Glowworm Caves, descend into the awe-inspiring Lost World or get your adrenaline fix with the thrill of black water rafting. There’s a wide range of caving experiences available to suit all ages, abilities and approaches to fun at Waitomo.

The tourism companies guiding visitors through the caves are deeply committed to protecting the fragile ecosystem and enjoy sharing their work with visitors.  Hear some of the stories about their efforts to protect and enhance the environment they operate within on our Tiaki in Waitomo page.

Waitomo Caves Museum and Discovery Centre

New Zealand’s one and only speleological museum provides an educational deep dive into caves, the creatures within them, and the rich history of caving in Waitomo and around New Zealand. While you’re there, don’t miss the fun-filled ‘cave crawl’ challenge – an opportunity to climb and squeeze through cracks around the Discover Centre. 

This is the perfect place to discover the geological processes that created the Waitomo area’s unique caves, and to learn about the history of the area and the local iwi (Māori tribe), which has cherished the caves for generations. Some of the iwi’s treasures are safeguarded here as well as a nationally significant collection of fossils and sub-fossils, making the museum a place of significance for a host of reasons. 

Ruakuri Bush Walk

Put on a good pair of hiking boots and venture into the kingdom of Tāne Mahuta (the Māori god of forests and birds) on this walk filled with birds and natural features including tunnels, caves, naturally sculpted cliffs, low limestone arches and an incredible forested gorge. 

This 1.6 km track is an excellent showcase of the unique landscape of the Waitomo area and takes approximately 45 minutes to complete. Considered one of the best walks in the North Island, entry is free and the entrance can be found 4 km from Waitomo Village on Tumutumu Road.

Keep an eye out for forest birds including kererū (native wood pigeon), tūī, pīwakawaka (fantail), kārearea (New Zealand falcon) and tauhou (waxeye). Alternatively, visit by night with a torch to discover parts of this walk transformed into an otherworldly landscape, dotted with the luminescent lights of thousands of tiny glow worms. 

Near the car park you’ll find picnic tables, toilets and a grassed area for children to play on. There’s also a coin operated BBQ available for public use.

Marokopa Falls Walk

Stroll for 20 minutes through native tawa and nikau forest to reach the 35-metre-high Marokopa waterfalls.

The falls are only a short drive from Waitomo Caves and, with a reputation as one of the most beautiful waterfalls in New Zealand, they’re well worth making a detour for. Wearing a decent pair of walking shoes or tramping boots is a good idea as the tracks can be slippery.

The viewing platform for the falls has been removed and a new viewing area is coming soon. Remain behind the barrier at the falls viewing site and take care on the walk as the trail may have been damaged due to recent severe weather.

Piripiri Cave Walk

This short family-friendly five minute walk leads you through native bush and past limestone outcrops to Piripiri Cave. Steps allow you to descend into the depths of the cave and marvel at the unusual ecosystem it houses.

Wearing a decent pair of walking shoes or tramping boots is a good idea as the tracks can be slippery and a torch will come in handy for negotiating the steps.

The Mangapohue Natural Bridge Walk is only 4 km away for those who want to explore the natural wonders of Waitomo further.

Mangapohue Natural Bridge Walk

Stroll through an ancient limestone gorge and marvel at the 17-metre-high natural bridge formed by the arch of a cave structure studded with stalactite-type formations. It’s an easy pushchair-friendly five-minute stroll to the base of the bridge and there’s also a 20-minute loop walk available that provides an opportunity to take in the stunning scenery and discover 25-million- year-old fossils preserved in the limestone outcrops. 

At present the walk is only partially open. Barriers are in place at the closed sections because it’s currently unsafe to be directly underneath the natural bridge. Wearing a decent pair of walking shoes of tramping boots is a good idea as the tracks can be slippery. 

The entrance to the track can be found on Te Anga Road, 25 km from Waitomo Village. The Piripiri Cave Walk is only 4 km away if you’d like to explore the natural wonders of the Waitomo further.