What to Do in Waitomo: A Subterranean Adventure Like No Other!
Let’s not beat around the bush. You came to Waitomo to see some glowworms! Sure that’s a great reason to visit this North Island hotspot, but why come all this way for a quick look at the glowworms? Stick around to discover there are more cave tours that you probably realised, a spectacular waterfall and glowworm bushwalks just a short drive from Waitomo Village. Visit some of the nearby towns, each with their own charms and quirks. Go to Waitomo informed with this list of things to do in Waitomo!
1. Walk the Ruakuri Bushwalk
One of the most popular free attractions in the Waitomo area is the 45-minute return Ruakuri Bushwalk. By day, enjoy the walk in an attractive forest setting alongside a river. The walk features small caves and limestone formations. By night, take a torch and try to spot the glowworms along the track.
Location: Tumutumu Road, 7km from Waitomo Village
2. Do a Guided Glowworm Walking Cave Tour
One of the best way to see the famous glowworms of Waitomo during the day is on a guided cave walk. See spectacular cave formations and clusters of shining glowworms on the cave ceilings on one of the many spellbinding walking tours available in Waitomo. Check out tours with Discover Waitomo and Cave World Waitomo.
Location: Cave World – 500m east of Waitomo Village. Discover Waitomo – 1km east of Waitomo Village.
3. Do a Caving Adventure in the Waitomo Caves
Get ready for some of the most exciting and unique adventure activities in New Zealand! Abseil, climb, scramble and float through the complex cave networks of the Waitomo Caves. Your expert guide will lead you through the caves to see breathtaking limestone formations and colonies of glowworms. Book your tour with Waitomo Adventures, The Legendary Black Water Rafting Co. or Cave World Waitomo. Learn more in our 6 Ways to Take On the Waitomo Caves.
Location: Black Water Rafting – 1.2km west of Waitomo Village, Cave World – 500m east of Waitomo Village. Waitomo Adventures – Waitomo Valley Road, 700m from Waitomo Village.
4. Visit the Waitomo Caves Discovery Centre
Learn more about Waitomo’s limestone processes, about the lifecycle of the glowworms and challenge yourself to a cave crawl at the museum of the Waitomo Caves Discovery Centre. The museum is New Zealand’s only speleological museum housing important fossils. This affordable attraction is a great addition to any of your above or below ground adventure in Waitomo.
Location: Waitomo Village
5. Check Out the Mangapohue Natural Bridge & Piripiri Cave
For those willing to venture further beyond the Waitomo Caves, you’ll be rewarded with grand natural attractions like the Mangapohue Natural Bridge. Follow a five-minute walk alongside a spectacular river gorge until you reach a 17m limestone arch crossing the river. A little further down the road is also the Piripiri Cave which has another short walk that descends down to a cave entrance with a viewing platform.
Location: Mangapohue Natural Bridge – State Highway 37, 25km east of Waitomo Village, Piripiri Cave is a further 4km.
6. See Marokopa Falls
Continue a couple more kilometres down the road from the Piripiri Cave and you’ll reach the walk to Marokopa Falls. Follow a short bushwalk to a viewing platform looking across the river at the majestic 35m-high Marokopa Falls (it doesn’t always look as ferocious as it does in the below photo)! For more natural attractions along this stretch of road, check out our 16 Free Things to Do in Waitomo.
Location: State Highway 37, 30km from Waitomo Village
7. See the Animals and Stop for Dinner at Roselands Restaurant & Farm
Get the real Kiwi farm experience at Roselands. Famous for their frequent buffet schedules, such as their NZ$15 beef casserole nights, Roselands Restaurant is a popular stop for dinner and a New Zealand farm experience. See the farm animals on a 20-minute ATV tour of the 3,000-acre farm. Groups can also book in for sheep shearing shows.
Location: Fullerton Road, 3km south of Waitomo Village
8. Check Out the Kiwiana town of Otorohanga
Either on your way to or from Waitomo, you’ll pass through the characterful town of Otorohanga. The town is the self-proclaimed “Kiwiana Capital of New Zealand” celebrating all things about New Zealand popular culture. Learn more about it down the free Ed Hillary Walkway just off the town’s main street or even see a real-life kiwi bird at the Otorohanga Kiwi House. Get more inspiration for your visit with 5 Fun Things to Do in Otorohanga.
Location: State Highway 3, 15km north of Waitomo Village
9. Visit Te Kuiti, the Shearing Capital
Head south from Waitomo and you’ll reach another quirky town, this time it’s the “Shearing Capital of New Zealand” marked with a 7.5-tonne statue of a sheep shearer. The town also has some attractive Japanese gardens, the picturesqueMangaokewa Reserve with a waterfall, as well as being a popular base before heading to the Timber Trail. Find out more in our 5 Fun Things to Do in Te Kuiti.
Location: State Highway 3, 18km south of Waitomo Village
10. Visit Piopio with Waterfalls and a Hobbit Filming Location
Finally, don’t underestimate the little town of Piopio and its attractions! First, stop by the town to sample one of the cafes, visit the art gallery and the museum. Then, head down theMangaotaki Road to discover picturesque walks alongside limestone cliffs, to waterfalls and even a Lord of the Rings attraction at Hairy Feet Waitomo. See 10 Fun Things to Do in Piopio for more inspiration.
Location: State Highway 3, 41km south of Waitomo Village