Waitomo Glowworm Caves

The Waitomo Glowworm Caves, located just outside the main Waitomo township on the North Island of New Zealand, is a famous attraction because of a sizeable population of glowworms that live in the caves.Glowworms or Arachnocampa luminosa are tiny, bioluminescent creatures that produce a blue-green light and are found exclusively in New Zealand.


This cave is part of the Waitomo Caves system that includes the Ruakuri Cave and the Aranui Cave. Within these caves is a river that flows through entirely through it, and a central Glowworm Grotto where the majority of the luminescent worms live.

About 30 million years ago, these caves existed under the ocean, being constructed, formed, and carved by immense amounts of pressure and the water of the ocean. The cave walls, stalagmites, and stalactites are formed by millions of year old limestone deposits, fossilized sea corals, sea shells, and fish fossils. After millions of years of tectonic plate movement, the caves started to bend and fold over on itself, eventually rising above the surface of the water forming closed off caves of what now exists today.


The Waitomo Glowworm Caves were first explored in 1887 by local Maori Chief Tane Tinorau accompanied by an English surveyor Fred Mace. Local Maori people knew of the Caves existence, but the subterranean caverns had never been extensively explored until Fred and Tane went to investigate. They built a raft of flax stems and with candles in hand, floated into the cave where the stream goes underground.


As they entered the caves, they came across the Glowworm Grotto and were amazed by the twinkling glow coming from the ceiling. As they travelled further into the cave by poling themselves towards an embankment, they were also astounded by the limestone formations.


More incredibly, the cave’s ceiling has millions of bioluminescent Glowworms, also known as Arachnocampa luminosa. The Glowworms are born as larvae in nests of about 100 per per birth and grow up to about the size of a mosquito. The worms spindle down from their nests from the ceiling with about 70 threads of silk reaching about 30-40 cm long.



In today’s world, without these sources of light, the people are left to experience genuine pitch-dark conditions except for the incidental and envisioned glimmer of light. A special case to this standard can be found in the Waitomo Caves where a fascinating organic wonder makes bits of light in the midst of the cave’s pitch-dark environment. This is an interesting and magical biological phenomena loved by the local visitors. Tourists from around New Zealand and the world come to witness to this magnificent, natural inconsistency


The worms’ bioluminescence is a result of a chemical reaction involving an enzyme,  Luciferin, that the worms produce reacting with energy (food) and oxygen, it creates a dazzling, bright blue/white color. The worms prey on moths, millipedes, or even small snails, yet interestingly, the hungrier the worms are, the brighter they will shine


The reason for the glow is certainly the larvae of fungus gnat which is only available in New Zealand in the Waitomo Glowworm. Regularly shining from the cave’s roof, eyewitnesses can see what has all the earmarks of being hundreds of glowing “lights” against the setting of a pitch dark cave just like a starry night sky. The experience of seeing the Waitomo Glowworm has been contrasted by numerous with sitting on a dull slope under the sufficiently bright, ritzy sky on a mid-year night. This is definitely extraordinary and special.


Propelled cave visits lead the gutsy voyagers profound into the cave framework through tight creep spaces and repulsing into apparently perpetual underground pits. To the individuals who have encountered the profundities of this cave framework, the excursion has been a significant one.