November 02, 2018
In a one-word answer, Absolutely!
In our opinion, these are one of the natural wonders of the world and a must-see attraction if you visit New Zealand. We specialise in golfing and fishing road trips around New Zealand, but we are so certain the caves are worth visiting that all our North Island itineraries include them.
The main cave is substantial and very interesting in itself. Lots of strange stalagmite formations and a massive cathedral along with plenty of side vaults. Well lit and easy to navigate (unless you have a walking impediment). Fully guided and very informative but, for me the cave itself is not the attraction. The exit from the cave is by small boat down a gentle river that runs through the cave system. It is pitch black and silent as you float and are poled down the river. If you lean back and look up you would swear you are looking at the night sky on a crystal clear night with the stars in the Milky-way shining brightly.
In fact, you are looking at the ceiling of the cave which is covered in a multitude of glow worms emitting what looks like star light. The lights seem as far away as the stars but when you near the end of the tunnel and daylight creeps in, you can see that the ceiling is only ten feet above you. The illusion is so realistic that I have not heard anyone say they were disappointed or anything other than amazed.
However; the tour through the main cave is the tame version of the caves experience. You can also black water raft down the river inside a more remote part of the cave system (float on inner tubes) and if you are really adventurous you can rappel 100 feet down a hole into the cave system and then black water raft back out to the entrance.
There are multiple types of tours with varying lengths and prices but if nothing else you must do the main tour, www.waitomo.com
Author: Dave Turner