5 Best Walks in Waitomo


Where to Find Walking Trails in Waitomo

Believe it or not, there’s more to Waitomo than magnificent limestone caves filled with twinkling glowworms. If you have more time in this popular hotspot of the North Island, then it’s definitely worth stretching your legs on one of the nearby walks. We’ll go through the walking highlights with this list of the best walks in Waitomo!

While this list covers some of the closest walks to Waitomo, there are more short walks (under 30 minutes) available a short drive east of Waitomo down State Highway 37, such as the Mangapohue Natural Bridge and Marokopa Falls. Find out more about visiting those attractions in our 16 Free Things to Do in Waitomo. Plus, if you have more time, you’ll find more excellent walking trails near the town of Piopio.

1. Ruakuri Bushwalk (45 Minutes Return)

The most popular walk in the Waitomo area is the 45-minute return Ruakuri Bushwalk. By day, enjoy the walk in an attractive forest setting with the river by your side the whole way. The walk also features small caves and limestone formations. By night, take a torch and keep an eye out for glowworms alongside the track. The Ruakuri Bush and Scenic Reserve also has coin-operated barbecues, as well as a picnic area.

Location: Tumutumu Road

James Shook on Wikipedia© James Shook on Wikipedia

2. Waitomo Walkway (2h30min Return)

Accessible from Waitomo Village, the Waitomo Walkway is one of the easiest walks to access. Enjoy spectacular views across the region from the Waitomo Lookout as you walk through a mix of rolling green farmland and native forest. There are a few limestone karst formations to marvel at as well. This walk joins with the Ruakuri Bushwalk (see above).

Location: Opposite the Waitomo Caves Discovery Centre in Waitomo Village©

3. Opapaka Pa Walk (50 Minutes Return)

Get a taste for New Zealand native forest at the beginning of the Opapaka Pa Walk. Trees are labelled to tell you more about each specimen before the track steeply ascends over farmland to a pa site – the site of an old Maori village. You can still see trenches and kumara pits (food storage pits). Interpretation panels help visualise what the village would have looked like.

Location: Waitomo Caves Road

Alex Indigo on Flickr© Alex Indigo on Flickr

4. Waitomo Guided Cave Walks (1 Hour)

For a walk with a difference, consider one of the underground walking tours available in Waitomo. Your guide will take you along platforms and cave floor walkways to see limestone formations, such as stalactites and stalagmites, as well as groups of glowworms, both glistening on the cave ceilings and close-up. Book your walking cave tour with Discover Waitomo (more info on Viator and Tripadvisor), Glowing Adventures or Cave World Waitomo (on Viator and Tripadvisor). Tours usually last about 1 hour to 1h15mins. See 6 Ways to Take On the Waitomo Caves for more information.

Location: Waitomo Caves Road


5. Mangaokewa Reserve Walk (1-hour Return)

Another fantastic walking option in the Waitomo area is a short drive away just outside of the town of Te Kuiti. The Mangaokewa Reserve has a picturesque picnic area and a 1-hour walk through a lush forest to a cascading waterfall. There is also a walk as part of the Te Aroroa Trail which follows the Mangaokewa River. Check out more things to do in Te Kuiti here.

Location: State Highway 30, 22km south of Waitomo©


Laura S.

This article was reviewed and published by Laura, editor in chief and co-founder of NZ Pocket Guide. Since arriving solo in New Zealand over 10 years ago and with a background in journalism, her mission has been to show the world how easy (and awesome) it is to travel New Zealand. She knows Aotearoa inside-out and loves sharing tips on how best to experience New Zealand’s must-dos and hidden gems. Laura is also editor of several other South Pacific travel guides and is the co-host of NZ Pocket Guide’s live New Zealand travel Q&As on YouTube.

Was this article useful?