Exploring Waitomo glow worm caves

New Zealand is a land full of surprises. Not only it has the most active volcanic areas, but also some of the most unique fauna in the world (competing with Australia!). One of the things you can’t miss when visiting the North Island is the Glow Worm caves in Waitomo.

What is a glow worm?!

Have you ever heard of bioluminiscence? This is one of the strangest and most beautiful things that mother nature gifted to certain creatures. Bioluminescence is the production and emission of light by a living organism, mainly plankton, little invertebrates and fungi. In the case of the glow worms, they live in darkness and produce this glowing blue light to lure in their prey.

They’re found all around Waitomo, though these caves are an awesome way see them glowing in the pitch black. The best part is that you go on a boat ride through the incredible & vast cave system to find them.

Waitomo glow worm caves
Image by newzealand.com

How to get to the glow worm caves?

Waitomo is well connected with other main cities and tourist attractions in the North Island, so it doesn’t take long to get there. You can also make this visit part of a day trip combined with Hobbiton. Here’s the transport options:


Can you self drive? Of course! There’s parking onsite at Waitomo, so if you have a Campervan or you’re driving a car this easy. See the section below for how to book tickets directly to Waitomo.


I chose this option, there are regular Intercity bus services from Auckland (via Hamilton), Rotorua and Tauranga, the four biggest cities around the caves. If you’re short on time, you can buy a full day return ticket that will take you from Auckland to Hobbiton and the Waitomo glow worm caves (this doesn’t include entrance tickets – see where to get tickets below). Check all the bus options and timetables here.

Private shuttle tours

If you prefer not to take bus journeys and like a more tailored, small group kind experience, these are your best options (return transport and all tickets included).

From Auckland:

From Rotorua:

Where to get tickets to Waitomo Caves?

If you’re doing the bus or self drive option, you can buy a Waitomo Caves ticket here and just show the ticket confirmation at the entrance. You can read the Hobbiton post with ticket links & transport info here.

Waitomo Caves

The last bit of advice is to embrace the fact that New Zealand is touristy, these places won’t be quiet or remote, though it’s well worth it! The surroundings are just beautiful and the cave… I’ve never seen anything like it!

If you have any more questions, just leave a comment below or drop us a WhatsApp & we’ll happily help you out. Get ready for memory book trips!


To help me keep giving you my tried and tested advice, I’ve used affiliate links in this blog for the items I’m recommending. I may receive commission from the affiliate, though this doesn’t affect any price you pay.

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