Luminous caves of Waitomo
Waitomo Caves are considered one of the main attractions of New Zealand. They are located on the North island of New Zealand, 12 km Northwest of the town of Te Kuiti. Their name “Waitomo”, translated from the Maori language, means “water passing through the hole”(“wai” – water, “tomo” – funnel). One of the main attractions of the Waitomo caves is the “glowworm Cave”. It is called the “Firefly Cave” because of the large population of the arachnocampa Luminosa fungus gnats that live here. Here you can see and touch the real “starry sky”, above your head you can see thousands, millions of luminous points. This is an unforgettable sight.
Firefly mosquitoes are tiny, bio-luminescent creatures that produce blue and green light. The larvae of Arachnocampa Luminosa weave a nest of silk on the vault in caves, hang down threads with droplets of sticky liquid, and then highlight them with their own body, attracting small insects.
Arachnocampa mosquitoes are found in New Zealand and in some regions of Australia, but the species Arachnocampa Luminosa is endemic to New Zealand. It is they who create in the caves of Waitomo that fantastic green-blue glow that turns the vaults of the grottoes into a night sky strewn with twinkling stars. It should be noted that in caves it is necessary to observe as much as possible silence, fireflies can be scared. And then their lights will go out, plunging the cave into darkness.
Waitomo caves are a complex of many karst caves and underground grottoes, there are about 150 of them. The most beautiful caves are considered “fireflies” (Waitomo Glowworm Cave), aranui caves (Aranui), ruakuri caves (Ruakuri) and Gardner’s Gut (Gardner’s Gut). This is one of the oldest cave formations, their age is more than 2 million years. For a long time, the caves were located at the bottom of the ocean, and the water over the centuries has created numerous mysterious grottoes, stone and limestone formations of various forms, underground rivers and backwaters. Despite the fact that the Maori knew about the existence of caves, probably from the very moment when they settled these lands, people began to explore this fantastic underground world relatively recently, in 1887, the first researchers of the Waitomo caves were the Maori chief tane Tinorau and the British naturalist Fred Mays. They moved along the underwater rivers of the cave on a raft made of strong stalks of local flax. Tane and Fred were the first people to see the amazing beauty of the” starry sky ” of fireflies in the Waitomo caves. The first time the cave tours were conducted by the Maori, but in 1904 the caves were handed over to the state, and have since become a place of pilgrimage for tourists from all over the world. In the caves, in addition to fireflies, you can see stunning stalactites and stalagmites, some of which reach several meters in length.
The caves are open 365 days a year, in summer from 9.00 to 17.30 and in winter from 9.00 to 17.00. A visit To the luminous caves of Waitomo is included by our company Incomarture 93 in this tour to New Zealand.