Visitors of New Zealand can’t miss the spectacular Waitomo Glowworm Caves, definitely one of this country’s most amazing tourist attractions.
These limestone caverns, full of grottos and incredible rock formations, as well as the underground river are lit by the blue-green luminescent light radiated by a myriad of Arachnocampa luminosa, a glowworm unique to New Zealand.
Well, to be precise, the Arachnocampa luminosa, or “titiwai” as the Maori call it, is not really a worm: it’s a flying insect whose larval stage and imago are luminescent. These larvae make a nest on the ceiling of the cave, and then produce threads that hang down from the nest itself. By glowing, they attract prey into the threads, probably luring them into thinking they are outdoors, as the roof of the cave becomes similar to a starry night sky.
The hungrier they are, the brighter the larvae glow.
Discovered by Tane Tinorau, a local Maori chief, in the late 19th century, the Waitomo Caves have been attracting thousands of visitors ever since.
Today, visitors can enjoy a fascinating boat ride through the caves, although the more adventurous can challenge their abilities in cave abseiling and rappelling, or even in rafting as well as -of course- caving.
Address: Waitomo Glowworm Caves, 39 Waitomo Caves Road, Otorohanga, Waitomo Caves, Hamilton – Waikato, 3977, New Zealand.