As humans, we’re drawn to and fascinated by the magical, other-worldly aspects of life. We love stars, sunsets, sunrises...basically anything that makes us stop, stare and appreciate. So it comes as no surprise that people go loopy for glow-worms. They’re little miracles that illuminate dark, dark spaces and make us believe that magic is truly alive and kicking.
Lucky for us, glow-worms live in spots not too far from Auckland. You can jump in the car and be marvelling at thousands of luminous creatures within a matter of hours. Here are five spots to find glow-worms in and around Auckland. Let the magic begin!
On your next Northland mission, be sure to pop into Waipu Caves for a glow worm display of epic proportions. This unguided cave walk will have you exploring limestone rocks and beautiful boulder formations before being treated to a breath-taking ‘galaxy’ ceiling of glow-worms. There’s no one to help you along your merry way, so BYO torch, comfy shoes and prepare to be amazed. Pro tip: head to McLeod’s Pizza Barn for a well-deserved feed and a few cheeky bevvies afterwards.
The mighty Waikato offers a glow-worm experience like no other. If kayaking wasn’t cool enough already, a kayaking glow-worm adventure takes things to a whole other level. Take a guided tour down a peaceful section of the Waikato River, under the Pokaiwhenua Bridge and into a spectacular canyon, where drapes of native fern and spectacular glow-worms await! Each tour is unique (with one offering vino and cheese by a campfire!) and will be a night you’ll never forget.
Just two-and-a-bit hours from Auckland is the beautiful Waiomio Valley, home to the majestic Kawiti Caves. These caves were first opened to the public in the 1950s by the great grandson of the famous Maori chief, Kawiti, and remain one of the top spots to view glow-worms today (really, even ol’ mate Bill Clinton has been). Wander through a 200-metre limestone cave system, full of stalactites and stalagmites (those icicle looking things) as well as thousands of teeny, tiny glow-worms aka. Arachnocampa luminosa—a glow-worm that is unique to New Zealand. You’ll learn about their fascinating life-cycle and walk out feeling like you just witnessed the milky way.
Waitomo, you beauty! If you’re serious about this glow-worm spotting business, then get your booty to Waitomo Caves—it’s sure to blow your mind. Book yourself in for a glow-worm cave tour, which will see you hop in a boat and glide under the starry wonderland of the Glow-worm Grotto. More of an adventure junkie? Get amongst their caving, rafting and tubing.
Less than a 90-minute drive from Auckland and you’ll be at the stunning Nikau Caves. These glow-worm caves offer one-and-a-half-hour tours, taking you deep underground into glow-worm territory. There’s a stream so prepare to get your footsies wet and if you’re not a fan of small spaces, you might want to mentally prep for the 12-metre section that must be crawled through (you can do it!). Once that’s done and dusted, grab some kai and a hot drink from the on-site cafe.
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Image Credit: Joseph Michael at Nikau Cave