New Zealand North Island

Underground adventures in Waitomo Glowworm Caves

After leaving Hobbiton, we drove to Waitomo Caves to prepare fo the next day and our big rafting adventure…

We booked a 5-hour cave tour Kiwi Cave Rafting through This tour was supposed to include five different adventures – witnessing glowworms, black water rafting, caving, abseiling and rock climbing. Kiwi Cave Rafting is a small family business. They provided everything necessary for the tour, we just had to bring a swimsuit, a towel and spare socks. The maximum number of people per tour is 6 and we were joined by a young boy and his father from Switzerland.

Scared slowely changes to happy.

Scared slowely changes to happy.

Our guide Dan asked us to get in an old and super dusty minivan and drove about 20 minutes to a place in the middle of nowhere where we put on smelly wetsuits, “sexy pants”, helmets and boots. Dan explained how to master the ropes and the technique of abseiling and then it was our turn to abseil a 27-metre chasm. It was the first time I did abseiling and I have to admit that I was pretty scared when it was the time to swing over the chasm, but it was okay as soon as I tested that the rope (and my hands) can hold me. Descending down the chasm was one of the best moments ever. The light was penetrating into the cave, revealing the beautiful architecture created by nature. Too bad that it was over so soon.

17-02-15 Dan 9pm 036_1

The next part was moving upstream to a cavern with lots of glowworms. Dan explained to us that glowworms Arachnocampa luminosa are luminescent flies endemic to New Zealand. They spent most of their lives in a larval stage. Each larva creates a silk nest on the ceiling and hangs about 70 silk threads covered in mucus droplets. The more a larva is hungry, the more it glows. Dan asked us to sit down on the ground and switch off our headlights. I admit that I didn’t expect it to be so amazing. It looked like a sky full of stars!

We went back and our tour continued by black water rafting in tubes and caving. We were passing through the most narrow holes and I couldn’t believe that I am not going to get stuck there. My only hope was that if the big Swiss guy can pass through, then I must be safe. I don’t think that narrow spaces are my thing. I enjoyed the other parts of the adventure much more. When I was beginning to feel exhausted, we made a break and Dan took out a thermos with a hot beverage and some chocolate! Just what we needed.

A glowworm’s net.

On the way back, we saw an eel and a huge spider. I am afraid of spiders, but I was so curious that I went to look at it. Good that I didn’t know earlier what was hiding between rocks. After that, there was only one thing to do left – rock climbing. So many first-times in one day! Dan said that the record is 40 seconds and Marek almost beat it. I was proud of myself just for making it up there :)

Kiwi Cave Rafting doesn’t provide only adventure but also some comfort afterwards. We had a shower and a cup of hot soup. Try to imagine how totally amazing a cup of hot soup feels after five hours of exhausting activities in cold water! I think it was a perfect day, we had so much fun and tried so many new things. I would definitely recommend it to anybody :)



  • Reply Shadysace

    That spider is terrifying!

    April 10, 2015 at 06:47
    • Reply patriciatravelstheworld

      I agree! I have to admit that despite being a biologist, I find spiders extremely terrifying. Since seeing this one, I was a bit more afraid to approach any wall of the cave :-D

      April 11, 2015 at 19:06
      • Reply Shadysace

        I bet, I would be to. It gave me shivers when I saw it. But the beauty of the caves is certainly worth it.

        April 11, 2015 at 19:11
  • Reply Marie @ Life is a Highway

    What an awesome adventure! The photos are great!

    April 11, 2015 at 19:02
    • Reply patriciatravelstheworld

      Thanks Marie! I think it’s really great that the guide takes photos and you don’t have to bring a waterproof camera case or something. And it’s so worth capturing those moments :)

      April 11, 2015 at 19:08
  • Reply Gin

    Everything, but the spider, is amazing :-)

    April 20, 2015 at 15:28
    • Reply Patricia

      Not my favourite cave dweller either :-D

      April 20, 2015 at 15:41
  • Reply Camille

    Haha, it seems that you got to do all the things I didn’t in New Zealand! The 5-hour Kiwi Cave Rafting tour wasn’t running the day I was at Waitomo so I had to choose a different, shorter one. After the Tongariro Crossing…don’t tell me you also got to see dolphins or I’ll cry (95% of chances to spot at least one and I fell in the 5%!).

    Oh well, at least I didn’t see any spider… :)

    May 5, 2015 at 16:56
    • Reply Patricia

      :-D Well, I’ve seen a few (like 50) and a sperm whale (twice) in Kaikoura :-D But seeing the horrible spider should count as -50 dolphins, to be even. I’m sure next time you will be more lucky! :)

      May 5, 2015 at 17:07

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