Under the green hills of Waitomo lies a labyrinth of caves, sinkholes and underground rivers. The area's name comes from the Maori words wai (water) and tomo (hole).

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Under the green hills of the Hamilton-Waikato region lies a labyrinth of caves, sinkholes and underground rivers known as Waitomo. The area's name comes from the Maori words wai (water) and tomo (hole). 

The caves were carved by underground streams pushing through soft limestone over thousands of years. Many have amazing stalactites growing down from the ceiling and stalagmites growing up from the cave floor, pointy cones of layered rock formed over centuries by dripping water. The cave walls are decorated with galaxies of native glow worms. 

The easiest way to see the caves is with a walking or boat tour. If you’re into adventure, try the unique experience of blackwater rafting - you'll crawl, swim and float through the caves on a rubber tube. Or you could abseil or zip-line through the darkness. However you choose to explore Waitomo Caves, you're bound to agree they're a wonder of nature.

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There is as much to see and experience above ground as there is below.  Enjoy good cafes and walks as well as farm shows and natural wonders such as the beautiful Marokopa Falls and limestone Mangapohue bridge. A walkway beginning near the Waitomo Museum of Caves leads through farmland where you'll see fascinating rock forms and strange fluted outcrops. Nearby, the Pureora forest provides some great short and long hikes suitable for all levels.

For a quirky insight into rural New Zealand life, take in one of the local farm shows, or go exploring on a guided horse trek. If you'd like to visit some New Zealand’s rarest birds, including our national icon, head to Otorohanga Kiwi House.

Waitomo is a small town with a few shops and plenty of accommodation. The area is easily reached by road from Auckland (3 hours), Rotorua (2 hours) or Hamilton (1 hour).