The Waitomo Glowworm Cave is one of the top natural wonders of New Zealand’s North Island. A large but not enormous cave system, Waitomo is famous for being the only known home to the Arachnocampa Luminosa, more commonly known as the glow worm. Their presence in the cave causes the certain places along the ceiling to glitter like tiny stars in one of nature’s most magical shows.
The caves of the North Island were known to local Maori tribesmen long before the arrival of Europeans, but likely never explored. The first survey of the cave, and the discovery of its glowing inhabitants, took place in 1887 by an Englishman named Fred Mace. From 1889 to 1906 tours of the cave were offered by the local chief, but the government took control through most of th 20th century. It has been run by the tribe again since 1989.
The Waitomo Glowworm Cave is actually cave system that is home to a number of easily accessible chambers and several underground lakes. While the cave itself is home to some very beautiful rock formations, the main attraction are the glowworms, which congregate around the fungus formations on the ceiling. Both the larvae and adults glow, a magical site in the lake-filled caverns.
The Waitomo Glowworm Cave is located close to the center of the North Island and is very popular with day visitors. The area near the cave is built out to support tourism, with a visitor center and a hotel. All tours of the cave are guided in order to minimize impact to the denizens of the cave. Web: www.waitomocaves.com (official website).