Waitomo – Day 2

Welcome to day 2 of my 3-day weekend to Waitomo Caves. If you haven’t read Day 1, click here.

I had booked with Spellbound Glowworm Caves for their 11am tour on Sunday morning. They also run tours at 10am, 2pm and 3pm. The tour, which lasts approximately 3 ¼ hours costs $73 for adults and $26 children.

Waitomo General Store, established in 1910

Waitomo General Store, established in 1910

After breakfast I checked in at their office, which is part of the Waitomo General Store building (15 Waitomo Caves Road). If you sign their guest book and leave an email address they will email you photos of glowworms. So if you weren’t able to capture the perfect picture of the glowworms never fear.

Spellbound deliberately keeps their group numbers small, up to 12 people, which creates a more personalised tour. After hoping into the van tour guide Norm made his way out to the private farmland where the two caves, Mangawhitikau Glowworm Cave and Te Ana o te Atua cave are located. Along the scenic drive Norm provided excellent and informative commentary on the area.

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Entrance to Te Ana o te Atua

The first cave we went to was the Te Ana o te Atua (the cave of the Spirit). The gentle 45 minute guided walk through this cave looks at various limestone formations, fossils and bones.

Norm serving tea, coffee and hot chocolate from Spellbound's 'tearooms'.

Norm serving tea, coffee and hot chocolate from Spellbound’s ‘tearooms’.

After exploring the cave we walked to Spellbound’s purpose built ‘tearoom’ where Norm made us coffee, tea and hot chocolate and offered biscuits.

Following our refreshments we made our way to the Mangawhitikau Glowworm Cave. This is the glowworm cave that Sir David Attenborough filmed for the BBC series Planet Earth. After being fitted with hard hats with lights we made our way into the cave.

Boat ride through Mangawhitikau Glowworm Cave

Boat ride through Mangawhitikau Glowworm Cave

A highlight of the tour is the 20 minute boat ride in an inflatable raft through the glowworm caves. This ride was far more impressive than one I took the day before.

Without helmet torchlights we walked back out through the cave guided by Norm. It’s amazing how your eyes can adjust to the darkness.

Walk across farmland, Spellbound Glowworm Caves tour

Walk across farmland, Spellbound Glowworm Caves tour

We finished with a scenic walk across the ridge of the farmland and meet the van and Norm who took a different scenic route back to Waitomo.

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After a late lunch at Florence’s Kitchen, which is part of Waitomo General Store I checked out the Museum of Caves at the Waitomo Discovery Centre (i-Site). Entrance to the museum is $5 but if you have booked with one of the many tour operators you may get discounted entry.  The Discovery Centre is open daily from 9am to 5:30pm and provides excellent unbiased information on all there is to  do in the area. The attached museum is small but has interesting displays on the history of Waitomo, caving, and the geology of caves. I enjoyed taking a moments rest and looking through all the old photo albums.

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