Waitomo Caves - Magic
We live in paradise. There’s no doubt about it. We just need to remember it.
As self-employed parents, my husband and I always seem to put work first, but we made a pact this year to embrace school holidays, to switch off and explore with our wee family. Get off the beaten track and show them stuff that we remember from our childhood. And it’s paying off.
We’ve done Rotorua and all it has to offer, Taupo, my home town too. But this July school holidays, instead of searching for sun, we went looking for glow worms at the world famous Waitomo caves.
I hadn’t visited since a primary school trip of my own. I remember a roadside building with a pretend tunnel for us to practice in. Fast forward 30-something years and this tourist attraction is flash.
The architecture of the caves entrance is breathtaking. A beautiful building in the middle of farmland. It’s a hive of activity, and they’re not just locals on school holidays. The service is friendly, as kiwi as it gets, and the coffee is great.
We’re lead into the original caves by our guide Denise. Kids in tow. They can’t quite believe we’re actually going “underground” and are a teeny bit apprehensive. As am I.
But any nerves soon dissipate as we enter into this amazing underground world, with it’s stalactites and stalagmites. I search my memory back to my primary school visit for which one is which. A member of a group in front of us busts out Pokarekare Ana in the orchestra chamber. It’s haunting, and spine tingling, and so very Kiwi.
We make our way down to the much anticipated boat ride. It’s pitch black. Families are thankfully put on the boat first so our little ones don’t have time to get scared. But soon, it makes way for the most majestic sky. The boat is silent. The kids are silent. The glowworms light up our way. Thousands, perhaps millions of them. It’s extraordinary. We come out to daylight amongst native plants. There are dozens of people in front of us, dozens behind. It’s a Tuesday. No one is disappointed.
The first glowworm hit is such a success (but WHY? do they eat each other Mum?) we’re armed with facts to return for newsday at school.
We decide to take in the Ruakuri Cave Walk too. A two hour guided walk full of tales and legends of the caves. The kids (and us!) are fascinated. They see the glowworms up close, thread like creatures that dangle and catch their prey below.
Our stay at the Top Ten in a Maui campervan is perfect. Despite it being mid July we have everything we need. A home away from home. Heating, two double beds, fridge, stovetop, bathroom. All the home comforts. A free 40 minute walk at Ruakuri reserve comes highly recommended and we’re not disappointed. A raging river, caves, beautiful bush.
We spend two days in Waitomo and feel completely relaxed. Like we’ve experienced something incredible in another country, but we’re just 2.5 hours from home. Magic.
Visit Waitomo for more info here