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Waitomo

Walking tours

Our most recommended Waitomo Sightseeing Walking Tours

Waitomo: Glowworm Caves Guided Tour by Boat

1. Waitomo: Glowworm Caves Guided Tour by Boat

Discover New Zealand's natural wonder of Waitomo Glowworm Caves on a guided boat trip. Glide by boat through this underground complex, watching millions of tiny bioluminescent insects lighting up the rocky limestone. Explore this cave complex, including a chance to visit the Cathedral Cave on foot. The caves were formed over 30 million years ago and comprise 2 levels. The upper level is dry and includes the entrance to the cave and formations known as the Catacombs, the Pipe Organ, and the Banquet Chamber. On the lower level are stream passages and the Cathedral. Begin on foot as your local guide brings the caves to life with stories about their history. Then, board a boat and marvel at the light display as you glide silently through the starry wonderland of the Glowworm Grotto.

Ruakuri Cave 1.25-Hour Guided Tour

2. Ruakuri Cave 1.25-Hour Guided Tour

Explore Ruakuri Cave, New Zealand’s longest guided underground walking tour. Ruakuri Cave offers a captivating blend of Waitomo's most compelling subterranean experiences. Ruakuri Cave has displays of glowworms and is filled with beautiful stalactites and stalagmites formed over millions of years. Journey down through the spectacular spiral entrance, and marvel at the softly folding shawl-like limestone formations and crystal tapestries.  Hear the distant thunder of the subterranean waterfalls and get up close to the glowworms. Major features include Holdens Cavern, named after James Holden who first opened the cave to the public, The Drum Passage, The Pretties, and The Ghost Passage. Your knowledgeable guide will bring the history, features, and legends of the cave to life with their storytelling. Many of the guides are locals whose parents and grandparents have guided in the caves. The experience will leave you awe-struck and humbled by the sheer majesty of nature.

Auckland: Hobbiton Movie Set and Waitomo Small Group Tour

3. Auckland: Hobbiton Movie Set and Waitomo Small Group Tour

The tour starts with pickup from Auckland city, where the adventure begins as you drive through the stunning Waikato countryside, the most extensive farming area in the world, on a fully guided journey to Hobbiton. Along the way, don’t forget to take advantage of the photo opportunities as you admire the stunning natural landscapes all around of beautiful mountains and farmlands. After the drive, arrive at Alexander Family Sheep Farm and Shire's Rest, the entrance to Hobbiton, and marvel at the thousands of sheep that live here. While you’re here, grab a bite to eat, a coffee, or enjoy an ice cream to cool off while your guide collects your tickets to the movie set.  Next, hop on board one of the big green Hobbiton buses to depart on your 2-hour fully guided tour of this amazing 12-acre movie set with a professional Hobbiton guide to ensure you get the most out of your visit. During your tour trip into the lush pastures of the Shire, visit 44 hobbit holes, see amazing gardens, hear secrets and stories about the making of the movies and finish your LOTR experience with a cold beverage at the famous Hobbiton pub, The Green Dragon Inn. After your LOTR experience, it’s time to head west towards the stunning Waitomo region. Along the way admire the incredible hydro dams, beautiful farmland, race horses, and the Kiwiana capital of New Zealand. Before arriving at the caves, stop by Waitomo homestead for lunch, and a little surprise. Once in Waitomo, explore the ancient and amazing caves and marvel at the many cave formations including Stalactites, Stalagmites, and Lime Columns before descending even further underground for your Glowworm Grotto experience. Board your glow-worm boat for a cruise on the grotto river with thousands of glowworms sparkling above you. Unique to New Zealand for over 120 years, Waitomo Glowworm Caves are a must-see for any traveler.  On the guided trip back to Auckland the sights continue with New Zealand's longest river, the Huntly power station, and the Maori Queens’ burial site.

From Auckland: Small-Group Hobbiton and Waitomo Day Tour

4. From Auckland: Small-Group Hobbiton and Waitomo Day Tour

After pickup from your inner city Auckland accommodation, travel south over the Bombay Hills to the rich farmland of the Waikato region. Your driver guide will provide commentary on the way to Hobbiton with insights into the areas you are travelling through, along with some background to The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movies. On arrival at Shire’s Rest, embark on your Hobbiton movie set tour. This location is the largest “green set” in the world and the only part of the set remaining in New Zealand. See 44 hobbit holes, the Mill, the double arch bridge, and the party tree. At this stunning location you can take a photo at the gate to Bilbo’s house, “Bag End”, whilst looking out over the whole set to the hills in the distance. The tour ends with a visit to the Green Dragon Inn for a drink. Following your drink, you will be treated to a delicious lunch at the Shires Rest Cafe. There is time for shopping before your tour continues to Waitomo. On arrival in Waitomo, join a 45 minute guided tour of the incredible Waitomo Glow Worm Caves. Discover an ancient world 30 million years in the making. Enjoy the delicate cave formations and be wowed in the Cathedral, before taking the iconic boat ride through the glow worm grotto (subject to water levels). Marvel in silence at thousands of magical glow worms, which are unique to New Zealand, before exiting the cave. After your tour at Waitomo, return to Auckland. Enjoy an afternoon tea stop on the way, at your own expense.

Lost World Half Day Option with 100m Abseil_Dry

5. Lost World Half Day Option with 100m Abseil_Dry

Discover the world-famous Waitomo Caves from a more adventurous perspective as you head off the beaten track. The friendly staff will equip you with all the gear you need and provide a thorough safety briefing before you head to the entry of the caves. Begin your dry caving adventure with a 20-minute 100-metre free-hanging abseil down into the surreal Lost World. Descend slowly alongside your expert guide as the mist filtered light reveals strange plants and formations. Your guide will be on a separate rope and provides information, reassurance, and a back-up safety tether. Delight in the thrill of free-hanging in this massive void. Bounce a bit and turn because of the sheer length of the rope. Peer around into upper levels of the cave and spot giant spagatites that look like giant green hands growing out of the walls. Marvel at weird plants, struggling to cling to the sheer walls. Listen for the roar of the Mangapu river echoes up from caverns far below.  One guide will look after up to four people as you all make your unforgettable descent together. Once down, explore the massive caverns to see glowworms and gigantic flowstone formations that look like icing sugar running down the walls. Head up a 30-metre ladder that some say was the inspiration for Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven”. Your guide can assist your climb with their hauling system. Enjoy the guide’s helpful hints as you make your way along ledges back to the surface through the huge craggy upper levels of an area known as the 'Spider Hole'. Emerge from the 'Spider Hole' into what could easily be mistaken for the Burma Jungle, minus the snakes or tigers. Then, enjoy a short stroll back to the start where your adventure will conclude. 

From Auckland or Rotorua: Hobbiton and Cave Rafting Day Trip

6. From Auckland or Rotorua: Hobbiton and Cave Rafting Day Trip

Get picked up from your accommodation or an agreed-upon meeting point in Auckland or Rotorua and set off for Hobbiton. Upon arrival, you'll have some time to get something to eat or explore the Shires Rest souvenir shop before joining a two-hour walking tour of the Hobbiton Movie Set, which includes a complimentary drink at the Green Dragon Inn.  Transfer to the movie set on one of the tour operator's buses and hear about how this set was used for all filming of both "The Lord of the Rings" and the "The Hobbit" movies. After the tour, take 15 minutes to relax in the Green Dragon Inn before traveling to Waitomo Caves. Between the two stops, you'll have time to enjoy your picnic lunch. At Waitomo Caves, join a group of up to 12 people on the Black Labyrinth tour, which includes cave tubing and caving in the river that runs through the bottom of the Ruakuri Cave. After arriving at the cave, you will be given a briefing on the art of cave tubing before starting your rafting excursion. Float through a glow-worm grotto, jump over small waterfalls, and enjoy other adrenalin-filled experiences. The tour runs about three hours, 1.5 of which are underground.  Rejoin the main transport for the day and travel to your drop-off destination. On some occasions, the activities may be reversed. After you have completed the final activity, you will be taken to Auckland or Rotorua. You can start and finish in the same place, or choose to make this a one-way journey beginning or ending in Auckland or Rotorua.

Frequently asked questions about Waitomo Sightseeing walking tours

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What people are saying about Waitomo

Overall rating

4.3 / 5

based on 42 reviews

A very special experience. The walk down and through was brief and easy, so it's very suitable for kids or others with mobility issues with the boat ride through the most spectacular part.

It was a lovely experience. The stairs were not too bad and I managed them with ease. Loved seeing the gloworms.

Great tour. Max was awesome, welcoming and so knowledgeable. We took our 5 & 7 year olds & they liked it.

Moi was very informative and interactive and the caves were absolutely incredible

Had an Awesome experience. Cory was a fantastic tour guide thank you very much