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Waitomo is world renowned as one of New Zealand’s adventure hot-spots in the North Island. You’ll find something for everyone, from majestic glow worm caves and cave tours, to the adrenaline-pumped black water rafting and abseiling.
Hikers are in for a treat, as Waitomo has a number of amazing hiking trails and tracks, suitable for all levels and ages. Here’s our top picks:
Waitomo Great Walk
The Great Waitomo Walk is ideal for every level of ability, featuring over 40kms of comfortable yet varied terrain. What makes this hike so special are the stunning waterfalls waiting to be discovered as you make your way through Tawarau Forest. This trail also shows off the spectacular experience of walking through the forest itself: marvel at the limestone bluffs, forested hills and farmland before reaching the Waipuna Bridge. From the Waipuna Bridge you can follow the Waitomo Stream back down to the Waitomo Caves Village.
Throughout the Waitomo Great Walk, you’ll find a great selection of accommodation options if you plan to stay a few nights.
Dundle Hill Walk
The Dundle Hill Walk would be more suitable to those with a medium-level of fitness as the challenging climb to Kay’s Cabin may take some stamina. The Dundle Hill Walk is a 27km adventure showing off Waitomo’s stunning landscapes of limestone formations, native bush and unique forestry.
The two-day walk is broken down into three stages:
- The Waitomo Walkway: this stage of the two-day track navigates from Waitomo Village through to the Ruakuri Bush Reserve.
- The Ruakuri Bush Walk: this epic stage of the Dundle Hill Walk invites you to experience the extraordinary Aranui Cave, home to fascinating stalagmites and stalactites, including the Ruakuri Natural Tunnel, a place of strong cultural significance to the Maori people.
- The Walk to Kay’s Cabin: the final stage of this walk which takes you through to your accommodation for the evening. The following day sets off back along the Waitomo Stream to the Reserve, which is the end of your walk.
Duration: 6 hours
If you’re looking for a shorter trail, then check out the Pehitawa Track, a six-hour trail composed of mainly farmland and bush. The 16.5kms is known for having challenging climbs of up to 150 metre ascents and descents - guaranteed to get the adrenaline pumping.
After one kilometre from Waitomo Village, you’ll find yourself walking across tranquil open farmland mapped out by orange markers. The track continues with ascents and descents through bushland and streams towards Te Kuiti.
Tawarau Falls Loop Track
Duration: 2 to 3 hours
Similar to the Waitomo Great Walk, the Tawarau Falls Loop Track navigates you through the breath taking landscape of Tawarau Falls. A shorter walk that can be completed in only in two/three hours.
If you’re keen to extend this track, combine it with the Double Falls Track, which provides a stunning selection sheltered, secluded falls. While you’re there, go see the giant oyster fossils in the limestone outcrop, a two-hour detour via the Appletree Road route. Alternatively, you can set off from Were Road and walk the Gorge track (three and a half hours).
Waitomo is home to unique, magical experiences from lush native forests, historic limestone formations, and networks of glowworms and natural bridges. A must-see and do when visiting New Zealand.
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