Waitomo
Culture & history tours

Culture & history tours
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Waitomo

Waitomo

Our most recommended Waitomo Culture & history

Waitomo: Glowworm Caves Guided Tour by Boat

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.

Waitomo Caves: Labyrinth Black Water Rafting Experience

Waitomo Caves: Labyrinth Black Water Rafting Experience

Float down an underground river, slip into fast waters, jump off a small waterfall and take in the magic of the glowworm grotto of Ruakuri Cave on this Black Labyrinth adventure. Put on your gear and learn from professionally trained guides that will take you ziplining, rafting, and caving.  Check in for your black water adventure in Waitomo. Get all your equipment and instructions from your guide before you begin the subterranean journey. Leap over cascading waterfalls and weave and climb through a glowworm-studded wonderland. After an energized trip, float serenely down the underground river. Enjoy the glow worm show on the vaulted limestone galleries up above. Ride a stream that twists and turns through a canyon, and tumble down a hidden waterfall and rock slide before emerging into the sun-dappled Waitomo forest. The rafting base is located a short distance outside Waitomo Caves village. This is the booking and assembly point for all black water rafting expeditions. It is also the home of the Long Black Cafe, where you'll find delicious food, coffee, and friendly Kiwi service. 

From Auckland: Hobbiton & Waitomo Caves Day Trip with Lunch

From Auckland: Hobbiton & Waitomo Caves Day Trip with Lunch

Join this tour to visit two of New Zealand's most iconic and famous attractions, the Hobbiton Movie Set and the Waitomo Glowworm Caves, on a day trip from Auckland. After pickup from your central Auckland hotel, travel south over the Bombay Hills for panoramic views of the Waikato Region and the scenic Hauraki Plains. Arrive at The Shire's Rest in Matamata, the home of the Hobbiton Movie Set. Your guide will help you skip the crowds so you can explore the Movie Set on an official 2.5 hour tour including the fully themed Hobbit Hole on Bagshot Row. Be escorted through the 10-acre site and learn fascinating details of how the Hobbiton Movie Set was created. See Hobbit Holes, The Green Dragon Inn, and The Mill. Savor a complimentary specially-brewed beverage at The Green Dragon Inn.  Afterward, travel to the mesmerizing Waitomo Glowworm Caves, where you'll enjoy a light Kiwi-style lunch at The Homestead in Waitomo. On the way, share stories from Hobbiton and interact with your fellow travelers.  Glide silently by boat in the world-famous caves and be amazed by the thousands of magical glowworms.  Your guide will likely be a descendant of the Maori Chief who originally explored the Caves and can share with you the remarkable history of the area. Walk through the majestic Cathedral Cave, famous for its acoustics. The return trip takes you through some of New Zealand's most beautiful countryside before following the majestic Waikato River northwards part of the way back to Auckland. You will pass Taupiri with its very sacred Maori burial ground. The day concludes with your return to your accommodation.

Waitomo: Ruakuri Cave 1.5 Hour Guided Tour

Waitomo: Ruakuri Cave 1.5 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.

From Auckland: Waitomo & Hobbiton Bus Tour with Lunch

From Auckland: Waitomo & Hobbiton Bus Tour with Lunch

See the magical Waitomo Caves and the Hobbiton Movie Set on a full-day sightseeing tour from Auckland. Step on board your luxury GreatSights coach and travel south, taking in typical New Zealand scenery as you ride – lush green farmland and rolling hills. Your first stop is at the Waitomo Glowworm Caves, a network of underground tunnels and caves made from incredible limestone formations. Set off on a 45-minute guided tour of the caves, ending with a truly special boat trip through the Glowworm Grotto, where glowworms twinkle and shine overhead as you sail through a dark and silent cavern. Then you will board your coach again and make your way to the Hobbiton Movie Set which is one of New Zealand’s must-see destinations. A working farm near the small town of Matamata was transformed into a film set for the world-famous Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movies, and today you can visit the set and see where the magic was created. See highlights like the original Hobbit Holes, the Green Dragon Inn, and the Party Tree, and now venture inside a Hobbit hole and see how the Hobbits lived. Your tour guide will share behind-the-scenes stories and fascinating facts about how the film set was brought to life. After exploring these two top New Zealand visitor attractions, your driver guide will take you back to Auckland, returning in the early evening.

Auckland: Hobbiton Movie Set and Waitomo Small Group Tour

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 2.5 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.

Waitomo Caves Black Abyss Ultimate Caving Experience

Waitomo Caves Black Abyss Ultimate Caving Experience

Go on the ultimate caving adventure at the Waitomo Caves. Satisfy your inner adrenaline junky on this guided tour into the depths of Ruakuri Cave. Zipline through otherworldly glowworms, and splash through underground waterfalls. Check-in in Waitomo where your guide will ensure you are properly equipped and offer some technical instruction before you descend into the underground network of the Waitomo Caves.  Practice abseiling with your guide to ensure you feel confident before abseiling down 35-meters into the seemingly bottomless black depths of the glowworm-studded Ruakuri Cave. Descend deeper with a flying fox zipline that passes through an area that is abundant with glowworms. Prepare to be awed by stunning stalactites and stalagmites that decorate the cavern walls as you traverse through the dark water.  Enjoy adrenaline-fueled fun as you clamber down, float through the canyon, and scramble up waterfalls before resurfacing into daylight. At the end of your exhilarating journey, enjoy a hot shower, hearty soup, and a bagel.  End at the Long Black Café, a great place to sit back, relax and enjoy the high energy atmosphere as excited visitors depart and arrive from their various expeditions. Internet access and merchandise are also available at this point. 

Waitomo: Guided Eco-Cave Tour

Waitomo: Guided Eco-Cave Tour

You're in for about 3 hours of adventure! Here's how it all breaks down: First things first, we'll spend roughly 15 minutes getting you all set and going over some important safety stuff. Then, it's a 10-minute walk to the cave entrance. We'll take a leisurely 10-15 minute stroll through some beautiful New Zealand bush and the stunning Mangapu gorge. It's a warm-up, getting you used to the terrain before we enter the caves. Now, the main event – you'll have a solid 2 hours to explore the caves, complete with several mesmerising glow worm displays. After the cave excitement, we'll wrap it up with a 10-minute walk back through the bush to our office/house. And hey, don't forget to allow some extra time for a well-deserved tea or coffee, and cookies, with a dash of good ole kiwi hospitality!

From Auckland: Hobbiton & Waitomo Caves Full-Day Trip

From Auckland: Hobbiton & Waitomo Caves Full-Day Trip

Depart Auckland and embark on a scenic journey through the beautiful mountains of the Kaimai Range on a 2-hour drive to the Hobbiton Movie Set. Relax aboard a luxury Mercedes vehicle equipped with free Wi-Fi and complimentary snacks and water. On arrival, follow in the footsteps of your favorite Lord of the Rings characters on an official 2-hour guided tour of the 1,250-acre sheep farm where the movie was shot. Get amazing views of the Kaimai Range as you are led through the site to discover the Hobbit Holes, Old Mill and Double-Arched Bridge. Stop for a complimentary drink at The Green Dragon Inn. Continue to the Waitomo Glowworm Caves and learn about the amazing glowworms and the caves' historical and geological aspects on a guided boat ride. Sit back and relax, and enjoy the scenery on the return drive to Auckland, where you will get dropped off at your hotel on arrival. 

From Auckland: Hobbiton and Waitomo Day Tour with Lunch

From Auckland: Hobbiton and Waitomo Day Tour with Lunch

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 buffet lunch at the The Green Dragon Party Marquee. 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. **please note from 1 December 2023, Hobbiton will be starting their amazing 'Bag Shot Row' experience. This will mean a price increase to include this new enhanced tour, where you can venture 'beyond the door' and into an authentic Hobbit Hole interior.

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What people are saying about Waitomo

Overall rating

3.9
(55 reviews)

Activity’s spot on. Guides was great. But hotel in rortato little to far from down town and being a weekend public transport taxis was not the best option as only 2 running around the whole city. Once show had finished it would have been nice to be able to spend some time in the downtown region or have the option to choose hotel closer to most amenity’s.

Loved the tour put together the popular activities into 2 days. The drivers/guides Phillip, Dallas and Chris were all friendly and very knowledgeable of the sights and areas around. It’s understandable there is a fixed schedule on the tour, but would have been nice to include time for the museum part of Te Puia.

We loved the entire excursion! We had a problem the second day, they didn't pick us up from the hotel, it was chaos, they solved it, but they should have a person attentive to this and who will call you when something like this happens! In general, the two-day excursion is great, everything you can see!

The whole experience was brilliant, the guides pointed out things as we drove along ,Dirk, Sylvia and Edison. All were very good value for money and the guides at each experience made the trips unforgettable

A very well organised tour and excellent accommodation. Friendly drivers.