New Zealand, known by many as the adventure’s capital, is packed with things to do for visitors: including skydiving, rafting, touring, and so much more. But the country has another hidden secret that will delight those that have enough of the countryside and cities: intricate and beautiful cave systems.
These are some of the country’s most exquisite cave systems that are worth checking out while visiting, and prove that New Zealand has it all, from adventurer havens to the best mobile pokies.
Waitomo Glowworm Caves – Waitomo Caves
The Waitomo Glowworm Caves made waves across the world when pictures began to spring up on the Internet of the cave’s inhabitants. It has since become a magnet for both foreign and local visitors, and offers guided tours through three underground levels that are linked by shafts made from solid limestone. Visitors to the Waitomo Caves first enter the visitor’s centre, where they can learn about the history of the system, after which the tour departs and takes the group past massive stalactites and stalagmites. Entering a cavern known as The Cathedral, it takes a few seconds for the eyes to adjust to the many thousands of tiny glowworms that inhabit the cave, lighting it up like a full cluster of stars.
Te Anau Glowworm Caves – Te Anau
Similar to the above caves, the Te Anau Glowworm Caves are part of the same general system, which consists of 12000-year-old limestone caverns carved into incredible shapes thanks to the many millennia of river flow. The caves, which are accessible both by boat and on foot, are home to thousands of bioluminescent glowworms, all of which emitting a soft, blue light that lights up the entire cavern. The caves are fragile in some areas, and visitors aren’t allowed to go to far on their own, but the parts that are available to the public are not to be missed.
Raukuri Cave – Waitomo Caves
As part of the Waitomo Cave system, Raukuri cave is the biggest in the Waitomo area of New Zealand. It was first discovered by the native Maori people 500 years ago, and named after two dogs that were found to be making their home in the entrance of the cave a few hundred years ago. The cave was long used as a burial site for the local people, and became a sacred place for many, with modern construction built to protect the spiral drum entrance that can be found some distance away. It’s the only cave on the list that is accessible by wheelchair in the southern hemisphere, and its unique limestone formations and massive, hollow caverns make it a truly fascinating visit.
Caveworld – Waitomo Caves
Caveworld is another guided tour that takes visitors through a separate part of the Waitomo Cave system, and boasts the same spectacular limestone rock formations and hives of glow-worms. Travellers are able to wear wet suits and take to the water, following a rafting tour, which ends with jumping off of an underwater waterfall and down a waterslide.