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Waitomo Glowworm Caves: Day Trips and Tours from Rotorua

The Waitomo Glowworm Caves offers visitors a once-in-a-lifetime chance to witness these New Zealand native glowworms in person.

Marvel at the beautiful glowing phenomenon as you sail, kayak or stand-up paddleboard through these magical caves on a day trip to Waitomo Glowworm Caves from Rotorua. You’ll be visiting the streamway, made up of multiple smaller caves.

Here's all you need to know about Waitomo Glowworm Caves, one of the most fascinating destination for day trips from Rotorua.

How to get to Waitomo Glowworm Caves from Rotorua?

The Waitomo glowworm caves are located around 2 hours from Rotorua and 3 hours from Auckland.

From Rotorua to Waitomo Glowworm Caves by car

As one way takes around 2 hours to drive, you can comfortably reach the caves from Rotorua and return in one day. The fastest way to get there is via State Highway 5 and Arapuni Street. You can see signs along the roads all the way.

Guided tour to Waitomo Glowworm Caves from Rotorua

Many of the tours begin with a pickup from your hotel for the journey to the caves, spend around 3 hours at the caves and drop-off at your hotel.

How much does the entrance ticket cost?

The entrance fee to the Waitomo glowworm caves is usually included in the cost of each in-house guided tour, but make sure that you check before you book. If you go during the week, you’ll save 20% on entrance fees.

  • Adults: NZ$61 (US$34)
  • Children (aged 4 and above): NZ$28 (US$16)
  • Family (two adults, two children): NZ$154 (US$87)

What is the typical itinerary of a day tour to Waitomo Glowworm Caves from Rotorua?

A standard tour to the Waitomo Glowworm Caves consists of hotel pickup and transportation to the caves and touring. Depending on which tour you booked, you may take a walk or hop aboard a boat through the cave. Along the way, a guide will tell you everything you need to know about the science and history of Waitomo Glowworm Caves.

What kinds of tours are available?

There are many different tours available for you to take a day trip to Waitomo Glowworm Caves. Choose between a group or private tour, what nearby locations you’d like to visit and what extra activities you plan to partake in.

Guided tours to Waitomo Glowworm Caves from Rotorua

Get picked up and driven to the caves to begin the tour. Some day trips offer the option to kayak through the caves or even do stand-up paddleboarding. However, a majority of tours will take visitors by boat. Throughout the experience, you’ll have a tour complete with stories and myths told by an expert guide.

Private tours to Waitomo Glowworm Caves from Rotorua

For those who prefer a more intimate experience, you can book a private tour and enjoy your own itinerary. This provides you with more flexibility about how long you spend in each place and where you go on your tour.

Waitomo Glowworm Caves tour plus Hobbiton Movie Set

To fully experience as much as you can while you are in the area, consider a combined day trip to two of the most majestic spots in New Zealand. Visit the Hobbiton Movie Set, the scene of many wonderful moments in both the “Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit” film series.

Then, go to the caves to see the glowworms light up the caverns, making an idyllic day out for any film or nature lover.

How much does a tour cost?

Guided tours to Waitomo Glowworm Caves from Rotorua cost between US$45 to US$85 per person, depending on the activities involved, such as a boat ride, kayaking and paddleboarding.

A day trip to Waitomo Glowworm Caves plus Hobbiton Movie Set from Rotorua cost around US$150 per person.

Prices for a private tour to Waitomo Glowworm Caves start from US$445 per person in a group of eight persons.

What will you see and do?

Take a silent and magical boat ride through the caverns to take in the atmosphere and beauty as you glide along. Your tour guide will provide all kinds of information about the caves and their history, as well as tales that have been handed down over the years.

Waitomo Glowworm Caves is one of the three caves that compose the Waitomo caves network. You will see "The Cathedral," which is the tallest chamber, and explore the grotto where the glowworms light up the cave.

Some day tours also visit the Hobbiton Movie Set, where you can enter the house of the hobbits and explore the beautiful terrain and sheep farm, as they are seen in the film series.

What are the opening times?

Waitomo Glowworm Caves are open between 10 AM and 3:30 PM, with tours departing every 30 minutes.

When is the best time to visit Waitomo Glowworm Caves?

The best time to visit the Waitomo Glowworm Caves is during the warm summer months from November to April. During New Zealand’s winter, the temperature in the caves drops significantly, although conditions are pretty mild.

Are there any tours to Waitomo Glowworm from other cities in New Zealand?

Yes, there are tours departing from other cities in New Zealand:

Travel tips

  • Bring a coat, as the average temperature in the caves is 16-17 degrees Celsius year-round.
  • If you plan to do kayaking or stand-up paddleboarding, pack suitable clothing for getting wet.
  • Glowworms hate noise, so you should be quiet as you travel through the caves.