Family Activities in Waitomo
One of the most astounding natural attractions in New Zealand, the Waitomo Caves is a must-do for a family road trip around the country. What’s more, they can be experienced by all ages, from the walking tours through the caves to the gentle boat trips. But that’s not all that Waitomo is about! It’s also a place to see entertaining farm shows, a stunning waterfall and even meet a kiwi bird. So take a look at this list of things to do in Waitomo with kids and plan the perfect family getaway to the caves!
1. Do a Walking Tour Through Limestone and Glowworm Caves
Waitomo is famous for its caving tours and glowworm experiences, but what are the best options for families? We recommend the walking tours of Waitomo’s caves. For instance, there are no age restrictions for the Ruakuri Cave, a 1h15min tour through the breathtaking limestone caves with opportunities to see clusters of glowworms. Learn more about Ruakuri Cave on Viator or Tripadvisor. Alternatively, the Aranui Cave tour is a shorter trip in a more intimate cave setting with colourful formations and native giant insects called a weta (but no glowworms). Finally, the Footwhistle Glowworm Tour with CaveWorld Waitomo is a more off-the-beaten-track experience for families with children aged five and above. Learn more about the Footwhistle Glowworm Tour on Viator and Tripadvisor.
Location: Ruakuri Cave and Aranui Cave tours – 39 Waitomo Village Road. Footwhistle Glowworm Cave tours – 23 Waitomo Village Road.
2. Or Enjoy a Gentle Boat Trip Through the Caves
Another option to experience the caves of Waitomo, but focussing a bit more on the glowworms, are the Waitomo boat tours. A popular option is the Waitomo Glowworm Caves which takes you into the huge Cathedral Cave before embarking on a short boat journey to see a staggering colony of glowworms. See Viator and Tripadvisor for more details on the tour. Alternatively, Spellbound Glowworm and Cave Tours operates a longer walking and gentle rafting experience under another fantastic glowworm display in the Spellbound Cave, as well as an easy walk to see the formations of the Spirit Cave. See more types of tours in the 6 Ways to Take On the Waitomo Caves.
Location: Waitomo Glowworm Caves tours – 39 Waitomo Village Road. Spellbound Glowworm and Cave Tours – 15 Waitomo Caves Road.
3. Get a Fun and Educational Experience at the Waitomo Museum of Caves
Learn more about what lies beneath the hills of Waitomo at the Waitomo Museum of Caves. Kids get in free to this indoor attraction with interactive exhibitions, a cave crawl challenge, a video show about the glowworms, while cave crystals, moa bones and fossils are some of the artefacts to admire.
Location: 21 Waitomo Village Road.
4. Figure Out the Puzzles of the Troll Cave
Did you know that Waitomo also has a cave with a troll living in it? Experience the caves in a unique yet hilarious way in the Troll Cave at Waitomo Adventures. After delving down an elevator, you are in the Troll Cave and it’s your mission to find Tom the Troll! Solve the troll’s puzzles and enjoy countless surprises along the way on this one-hour adventure.
Location: 1227 Waitomo Valley Road.
5. See the Mighty Marokopa Falls
Take some time out from spending your family budget on paid tours and enjoy some of the free natural attractions surrounding Waitomo. Take a road trip down Te Anga Road and you’ll find a few interesting natural attractions along short walks suitable for kids. Marokopa Falls is a goodie, a 35m (115ft) high waterfall seen after a 10-minute walk through the tawa and nikau forest. See more activities like this in the 15 Free Things to Do in Waitomo.
Location: Te Anga Road, approximately 30km (19 miles) from Waitomo Village.
6. Do the Walk to the Mangapohue Natural Bridge
Another one to add to your road trip down Te Anga Road, Mangapohue Natural Bridge consists of two giant rock arches. The 17m (56ft) high arch with a river running through it is enough to wow the whole family. The loop walk here only takes 20 minutes to complete.
Location: Te Anga Road, approximately 25km (16 miles) from Waitomo Village.
7. See the Filming Locations of The Hobbit at Hairy Feet Waitomo
If the little ones (or you for that matter) love The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, then don’t miss this off-the-beaten-track filming local that will really make you feel like you’ve stepped into Middle-earth. Take a guided tour through the karst limestone landscape of Mangaotaki Valley and see the very spots that feature in the movies. The photo opportunities with props are always a hit! See more like this in the 10 Hobbit Filming Locations You Can’t Miss!
Location: 1411 Mangaotaki Road, RD 1, Piopio, approximately 54km (34 miles) from Waitomo Village.
8. Visit the Kiwiana Capital of New Zealand
Nearby Waitomo is the town of Otorohanga, which has a few quirky surprises of its own. It’s the Kiwiana Capital of New Zealand, where you can find a whole array of sculptures, street art and even a children’s playground dedicated to all things culturally significant in New Zealand! Collect a Kiwiana quiz sheet from the Otorohanga i-SITE and head to the Ed Hillary Walkway where you’ll find the answers while learning about New Zealand. Shuttles to Otorohanga are available with Real New Zealand Adventures, as listed on Viator and Tripadvisor.
Location: Otorohanga, approximately 15km (9 miles) from Waitomo Village.
9. Meet a Kiwi Bird and Other New Zealand Icons at the Otorohanga Kiwi House
Meet a real kiwi bird at the Otorohanga Kiwi House, just a short drive from Waitomo. See and learn about New Zealand’s unique birds and reptiles and about the conservation efforts to protect them. Some of the creatures you’ll see include kiwi birds, tuatara, kakariki, kaka, kea, paradise shelduck and much more. There are daily keeper talks and feedings, which are a must with the kids!
Location: Alex Telfer Drive, Otorohanga, approximately 17km (10 miles) from Waitomo Village.
10. Watch a New Zealand Farm Show
Learn about the New Zealand farming industry at one of the Waitomo farm shows. Woodlyn Park Kiwi Culture Show is a popular choice where you’ll learn about New Zealand’s traditional forest-clearing and sheep farming methods. Alternatively, the Waitomo Big Bird Lifestyle Farm Show displays the dairy farming side with hand milking, making cream and ice cream, as well as hand-spinning wool from New Zealand sheep. Note that both shows are only available on-demand when they meet the minimum group numbers.
Location: Woodlyn Park Kiwi Culture Show – 1177 Waitomo Valley Road. Waitomo Big Bird Lifestyle Farm Show – 17 Waitomo Caves Road.