Waitomo Caves, New Zealand
Waitomo Caves – one of the most incredible places on the planet! This natural wonder is located near Otorohanga on the North Island of New Zealand, 12 kilometers to north-west of the town Te Kuiti.
These karst caves are also known as Waitomo Glowworm Caves, because of the “Arachnocampa Iuminosa” – tiny glow worms who live only in New Zealand. Thanks to their green-blue glow, caves acquire magical modulations of the starry sky. Journey through such caves is comparable with the study of depths of the universe, when you want to see all these glowing lights closer.
These fabulous limestone growths and mysterious intricacies of moves create a whole system of 150 caves. Waitomo cave complex includes Waitomo Caves, Cave Ruakuri, Aranui Cave and Gardner’s Gut. Stunning stalactites and stalagmites of these caves are known all over the world!
The word «Waitomo» is formed of the Maori words «wai» – water and «tomo» – a funnel. Thus, the word can be translated as “the water passing through the hole.” The caves were first explored in the late 1800s and in 1889 were even opened for tourists.
The locals of the eponymous village have always known about these caves, but were afraid to pass deep inside. Tan Tinoro, a former ruler of the local Maori people, was the first who dared to explore this dungeon on a makeshift raft in 1887. Along with British scientist Fred Mays he discovered a magical Grotto of the Fireflies.
At first, Tan Tinoro with his wife Outi conducted cave tours for all comers. In 1906 the administration of the caves has been taken by the Government, but the locals participate in the service sector very actively. Since then they have become a real tourist attraction, whose number has been growing each year.
The peak of the tourist visits of the cave was fixed in 2004 – about 400 000 visitors.
Nobody remains indifferent after visiting these fabulous caves. In addition, they say that there is exclusively pleasantly smell here, and you can hear capella singing in the Cathedral hall cave on Christmas night.