Ruakokopatuna Glow Worm Caves

The Ruakokpatuna glow worm caves are fantastic. So many pinpricks of light in the absolute darkness if an underground cave...

Driving through the back country of Martinborough along dusty roads, past sheep on grass verges, farmers on quad bikes and the odd tractor I was looking forward to visiting the Ruakokopatuna glow worm caves. I hadn’t been there since I was about 6 and I was hoping they’d be just the same.

We arrived and I took the lead (being the expert) directing Dad to park on the grass and then heading down the little hill to the stream at the bottom, here you turn LEFT and head straight into the cave, running right through the hill you’ve just walked down. You should wear sturdy shoes and bring a torch each, some of the rocks are quite slippery and you will get your feet wet. A head lamp is very convenient if you’re not so good at balancing with one hand!

Its pitch black inside, almost from your first step, the air is really cold and damp and you wouldn’t be able to see your hand if it was right in front of your face. To start with it almost feels like there’s nothing to see except the rocks in your torch light and the stalactites hanging from the roof. It’s not until you stop, switch off your torch and look around that you forget about the immense darkness, instead focussing on the thousands of tiny lights that appear everywhere – just like I remembered. All you can hear is the stream running over rocks and odd drip of water from a stalactite and all you can see is a universe of glow worms, it’s really quite stunning. If you have a bit of trouble seeing them at first it does pay to turn your torch off and keep quiet, if they get a fright they turn their lights off and you can’t see them.

The cave itself is not too long, just enough to give you a good look at the glow worms before it leads you back to the outside world – perfect for people who don’t enjoy lengthy periods underground. Once you reach the end turn right and head back up the hill to the gate in the fence and back to your car.

This is a really good afternoon out – as long as you bring torches it’s not too hard for the kids and its great on a warm summer’s day when a little bit of water is no big deal. It would be especially fantastic to organise next time city friends and family come over – something they’ve probably never seen in this many numbers and in this way!

The Ruakokopatuna glow worm caves are only 20 minutes from Martinborough along a gravel road and are open during the summer. If you’d like to head out just give the owners a call on 06 306 9797 – they’ll be able to give you directions to their house and to the caves making the trip really easy.
Entry to the caves is just $10 per car and it’s definitely value for money!

For more fantastic things to do in the Wairarapa head to

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