Waikato Region

Rolling farmland dominates the Waikato but one of the most popular and famous destinations in the region are the Waitomo Glow-worm Caves. They are located around 3 hours south of Auckland and 2 hours west of Rotorua. For over 100 years Waitomo Glow-worm Caves have attracted people from all over the world to this subterranean wonderland. An ancient underground labyrinth of limestone caves and grottos, and amazing stalactites and stalagmites. The Waitomo Glow-worm Caves were formed over 30 million years ago there are two levels to the Waitomo Glow-worm Caves which are 16 metres apart. The upper level is dry and includes the entrance to the cave, the Catacombs and the Organ Loft. The lower level consists of stream passages and the Cathedral. As you glide quietly beneath the lights of thousands of glowworms, it is only the gentle sound of dripping water that reminds you that you are deep underground and not beneath a star filled sky.Aranui Cave is located in Ruakuri Scenic Reserve, Aranui is a dry cave.

There is only one entrance to Aranui and without a river flowing through, it houses very little life past the entrance. However, just inside the entrance is a colony of cave wetas. Aranui is famous for its beautiful arrays of stalactites, stalagmites, flowstones and unusual formations. Ruakuri Cave, translated from the Maori language means ‘den of dogs’. The cave is the longest and most complex of all three tourist caves with some unusual features. Some of these include an ancient Maori burial ground inset high in the cliff above the entrance to the cave, and fossil shells inside that cave that are over 30 million years old. The cave entrance leads into a large chamber known as Holdens Cavern, named after James Holden who rediscovered the caves. Key points of interest include the Ghost Walk, the Bridal Chamber and the Mirror Pool.

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