Waitomo Caves is the name of the town where two of the caves (the Glowworm and Ruakuri Caves) are located, that we visited. We started off at the Glowworm Caves a 45 minute tour that took us through the cave to look at stalagmite and stalactite structures. In these structures one can see things such as a mother caring a baby and child standing next to her, a rooster on a fence (the rooster fell off after a guide ran into it, a little tidbit that we got from our cheerful guide), a dog and persons face.
Then we walked down a dim ram and stepped onto a boat. While waiting for others ahead to get onto the boat, we already saw some glowing worms. The worms make a galaxy of little blue stars on the ceiling and sides of the cave. These worms are able to dim their lights and turn them off. The purpose of the light is to attract insects to their webs, which hang below them. The webs consist of 20 strands hanging down off the ceiling. When an insect gets caught on the web, the strands give off vibrations to the worm. The worm then says lunch time and winds the strand back in to enjoy its meal.
The other part of the excursion was Ruakuri Cave, meaning den of dogs in Maori. I liked this cave. It’s ‘new’ in the sense that the owners opened it up to the public two years ago and discovered it in the 1960s. Recent cave, yet old because of all the formation of limestone and underwater beds of fossils. On the tour we saw fossilized shells and moa bones (a huge 3 meter bird that used to live only in New Zealand, went extinct due to over hunting). The tour seemed more intimate because besides the guide there were only 8 of us (the maximum for these tours is 20). Like our guide said the entrance of the cave is something out of a science fiction movie. One goes down this spiral ramp (I kept thinking about the Guggenheim in New York) in dim lights and at the bottom a remote controlled door is open when magic words are spoken by the children. This cave offers a closer look at all the formations: flow rock, coral and fans. The tour seemed like it went by quickly, even though the duration (including with the bus ride to get there from the parking lot) was 2 hours. Very fun times!
P.S. Next time we have to try the cave rafting, which we saw from a walkway that we were standing on.