82. Bask in the glowworms of Waitomo Caves
With a natural landscape that encompasses everything from geothermal wonderlands to magnificent fiords and glaciers – you’ll be expressing your astonishment at every turn: here is No. 82 of our 101 Reasons To Stop Dreaming About New Zealand And Go.
Thirty million years in the making, Waitomo Caves are a must-see. Located an hour’s drive south from Hamilton/Kirikiriroa in the Waikato region, ever since their discovery in 1887 they’ve attracted visitors who are drawn not just by the delight of exploring a complex of caverns in the unearthly blue-green light of glow worms, but all the fun activities that are constantly being added. You can do it sedately, gliding through the caves in a boat, admiring the reflections. Or, at the other extreme, abseil down a shaft after squeezing through a hole in the rocks, to scramble along tunnels and then zipline past stalactites in complete darkness to an encounter with a colony of giant cave wētā (enormous and endangered native cricket-like insects). Waitomo Glow Worm Caves’ new Head Down Under with a mate from Down Under scheme gives free entrance to Australian visitors accompanying a paying local. Note: no one will be checking whether you are actually friends.