Waitomo, New Zealand Travel Guide: Top Things to Do and See in New Zealand
Waitomo, New Zealand is home to one of the biggest tourist attractions on the North Island: the Waitomo Caves. A huge network of underground caves, rivers and even waterfalls, they are actually best known for the glow worms that light up the ceilings of the caves! Seeing a constellation of stars as you drift down an underground river will definitely top your bucket list and be one of the most unique experiences you can have while travelling.
What to do in Waitomo, New Zealand
- Waitomo Caves: As you already know, these caves are a must do for New Zealand visitors; however there are many different ways you can enjoy the caves. You can take a gentle boat tour through this underground world, and marvel at the luminescent creatures lighting up the caves around you like stars. There is even an option for wheelchair accessible walks through different caves in the network. Or, you can turn it up a notch by choosing tours that include black water (AKA water running underground) rafting, tubing, zip lining and waterfall jumping! All of these can be booked through Waitomo Glowworm Caves or the Legendary Black Water Rafting Company. Booking ahead is a must, but it is super easy; simply head to www.waitomo.com, and you can pick your dates and start time there.
- Otorohanga Kiwi House and Native Bird Park: Another must do is to see kiwis, the iconic New Zealand native birds. Just a fifteen minute drive from the caves, you can easily spend an afternoon there learning about other native species, feeding birds right from your hand and watching kiwi feedings. The money for your ticket helps run the facility and contribute to conservation of New Zealand’s wildlife!
- Take a Hike: New Zealand is jam-packed with stunning scenery and natural wonders. Put on your hiking shoes and explore the area’s top hikes:
- Ruakuri Bush Walk with natural caves and bird watching
- The Mangapohue Natural Bridge, a 17 metre high limestone arch
- The 43 metre high Marokopa Falls, known as some of the most impressive in New Zealand!
- These trails are all reachable by car (no more than a thirty-five minute drive from the town); your hostel/hotel will be able to direct you!
WHERE TO EAT
- Long Black Café: Located at the headquarters of The Legendary Black Water Rafting Company, this café makes it easy for you to grab something quick off their small menu before or after your adventure. However, it is a tourist attraction, so prices are on the expensive side!
- Waitomo General Store: A small pub/café, this quaint place will provide some yummy dishes and free wifi!
- Thirsty Weta Bar & Eartery: A little pub in Otorohanga, it offers local craft beer and cider, full meals, a fun atmosphere, and live music! Definitely worth a stop to support local business and art!
- The Trilogy Pack: If you want to go all out in your New Zealand adventure, you can choose the Trilogy Tour! This means as a package, you can pay for and plan to do the Waitomo Caves, visiti Te Puia National Park in Rotorua and visit the Hobbiton Movie Set near! No transportation is provided, but this means you can design your trip as it works for you!
- Otorohanga: Even though the caves are located in Waitomo, cheaper accommodation can be found in this neighbouring town! If you have a car, try Otorohanga Holiday Park for clean, affordable accommodation! https://kiwiholidaypark.co.nz/
- Rent a Car: If you are thinking about traveling NZ, definitely look into renting a car. It is definitely the most preferable way to travel the country. There are hop on, hop off bus packages available, but having a car gives you much more freedom to really explore the country without set schedules!