Waitomo District is cave country. It’s in the north of the King Country region of New Zealand’s North Island and only an hour’s drive from Hamilton. The name Waitomo is a Maori word meaning ‘waterhole’, which describes the origin of the famous Waitomo Caves. They were created when layers of limestone, which formed on the seabed about 30 million years ago, were forced up out of the water through volcanic activity and massive earth movements, and then gradually eroded by underground streams.
These days, the caves are among New Zealand's most interesting and most visited natural phenomena. And for good reason! You won’t forget your boat ride through the Waitomo Caves and the experience of extinguishing your torches to see the glowworms sparkling on the cave walls. The original entrance to the nearby Ruakuri Cave is a protected sacred area - the site of a Maori burial ground - and an alternative entrance with its unique spiral formation is the one you will use. You can explore this cave on foot. A few minutes drive will take you to Aranui Cave where the formations of stalactites (they hang from the ceiling) and stalagmites (they point up) are among the most delicate and beautiful you will see. Do you like 'ugly spiny creatures’? The Maori translation for that is ‘wetas’ and you’ll probably see them too. A large colony of these prehistoric, locust-like insects lives just inside the entrance to Aranui Cave. Don’t worry – they’re harmless. If you are feeling adventurous there is also black water rafting and guided experiences in sink holes and underground rivers. Basically, Waitomo is an underground wonderland. Whatever you do it will be an unforgettable trip.
Just one hour from Hamilton airport, Waitomo is a remarkable and easily accessible holiday destination. So scratch below the surface. Book your Hamilton flights and your Waitomo accommodation now and discover these amazing underground treasures.
Hotels in Waitomo Caves start at NZ$80 per night. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.