Tourist Sights Glowworm Grotto in Waitomo New Zealand

About the unique tourist sight Glowworm Grotto in Waitomo, New Zealand, history, location, and description of the sight.




Sight: Glowworm Grotto (Waitomo Cave).

Waitomo Cave has been spared an obscure listing among the many caverns of the world for one reason. It encompasses Glowworm Grotto, a phenomenon unique on this earth. Even the blase George Bernard Shaw, seldom at a loss for words, could describe it only as the "Eighth Wonder of the World." Visitors descend by foot to a demonstration platform from which you can view a small grotto clustered with glowworms, while a guide explains the life-style of the Arachnocampa luminosa. The adult gnat lives just four days and exists only for reproduction. Each tiny light pulsating before you is the larva of a gnat, incubating in a mucus nest suspended from the cavern ceiling or wall. After descending on a wooden dock and climbing into a flat-bottomed boat, you are warned that from this point on absolute silence is necessary to keep the tiny insects from "turning off" their lamps. Your guide, moving the boat by pulling hand over hand on an overhead wire, silently transport you via an underground river into the grotto. The effect is absolutely stunning. No daylight ever penetrates into this cavernous chamber (100 ft. long, 50 ft. wide, and 40 ft. high), where you are suddenly confronted with a brilliant canopy of tiny blue-green stars. Tens of thousands of tiny insects inhabit the grotto, their luminescent tails reflected in the silken threads by which they hang and in the black water beneath them. It imparts a feeling of wonder which must be akin to that of gliding along the Milky Way.

Location: Entrance is about 400 yd. from the Waitomo Hotel. Nearest city is Te Kuiti.

Seeing It: Tickets and information are available at the reception desk at the Waitomo Hotel. Eight tours are conducted daily; extra tours during holiday seasons. If possible, take the evening tour, when the grotto is at its most magnificent. Temperature in the cave is a constant 55 degree F.

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