Caving and Glow Worms

Discover natural underground passages, learn about cave formations and escape into hidden worlds of tranquility; delve deeper with us
Lava caves in Auckland

Caving and Glow Worms

Caving and Glow Worms are discovered all through New Zealand, from Waitomo to Te Anau

Rangitoto Lava Caves, Hauraki Gulf

Explore Rangitoto Island, volcanic history, cave discoveries and summit views

Waipu Caves, Northland

Easy cave exploration for family and friends, see speleothems and glow worms

Auckland West Coast beach caves

Whatipu, Bethells Beach and many more, let us show you all of them!
Caving head lamp

Caving and Glow Worms

More is known about the stars above than the world beneath our feet.

Auckland caves are Basaltic and there are over 150 having formed in mere days.

There are also many sea caves; New Zealand has the largest ones in the world.


Amazing caving

A veil of darkness cloaks the nocturnal beauty of cave lairs with fanciful rock features.

Stone formations called speleothems emerge from the caverns’ floor like mushrooms.

These karst cavities, known as glow worm caves, are delicate dens and prehistoric ancient underground realms known for potholing around the globe.

Caves are mysterious underground chambers home to many fun things.

A treasure trove of delicate and prehistoric formations; stalactites, stalagmites, flowstone, crystals, glow-worm galaxies as well as showcasing many fossils!

But the true reason people love to explore caves in Aotearoa (New Zealand) is for the opportunity to see glow worms. You might even find a hidden hole, like Sméagol/Gollom (Trahald!), and admire these incredible creatures.

As active cavern explorers ourselves, these rock chambers are no longer lost worlds, you never know what you’ll stumble on in these natural wonders—and that’s just part of the Spellbound attraction! Lucky for us, Auckland (and beyond) has many honking holes and fun blackwater rafting streamways for all you cavemen/cavewomen to explore. Experience the thrill of glow worm caves in NZ, on one of our Glow worm cave tours or glow worm tours NZ wide.


History of caving

30 million years ago Mother Nature worked her karst magic and began to form tomo’s; some of the most incredible Limestone Lairs and Marble Mountains. Once a lost world, now discovered dens, join Social Nature Movement on the perfect beginner or family friendly grotto experience exploring this natural underground wonderland!

Caving and seeking Glow Worms in New Zealand is an established hobby as well as being a part of commercial tomo tourism. International potholers have also explored with us these limestone lairs and marble mountains with family and friends.

Let loose your children on a Troll patrol, embracing a real spellbinding cave tour or what is called ‘wild-caving’, beyond the artificial lights and commercial walkways. So expect a cavity to get a little (or a lot) wet through blackwater rafting and muddy, but worry not, we provide all the caving clothing and equipment making your adventure fun, and most importantly safe!


Auckland caving and beyond

With various stone cavity challenges, there is a grotto route for everyone! Don’t fancy crawling through the stream or blackwater rafting?, then you don’t have too! Fancy challenging yourself through a tight pothole squeeze?, then follow your guide into the most exciting – but not frightening – of den wriggles!

Marvel at the glow worms increasing brilliance as your eyes adjust to spellbound darkness. At Social Nature Movement, we know in tomos you need at least 20 minutes for your eyes to completely adjust to the cavernous darkness. So, we shut down our lamps, letting the glowworm galaxies illuminate the cave holes. See these intriguing nocturnal den creatures up close and marvel at their fascinating life. Be amazed and awed by the spectacle and sheer number of glowworms inhabiting the rock chambers of Social Nature Movement’s caving paradise.

Naturally and sensitively presented, our spellbinding karst cavities make you feel like an explorer from a stone age on a Troll patrol. A fascinating ancient time vault, its not Narnia, rather a nocturnal lost world waiting for your curiosity!

Benefits of caving

Caving is therapeutic because radiation and bad ions cannot penetrate the rock.


Glowworm gospel

Glowworm galaxies are a must see. Glowworms glow because the chemicals and enzymes from their bodies are reacting with oxygen in the air to create light. Glowworms glow to attract insects. Let your curiosity glow to attract discoveries. The secret world of caving is closer to home than you know.


All about glow worms

Glow worms:
– Fire-fly
– Lightning bug
– Lampyridae (Fireflies).
– Noctiluca
– Phengodidae
– Arachnocampa / titiwai (fungus gnat)
– ‘blue-bug’
– ‘lantern-larvae’
– Bioluminescence
– Elateridae, Phengodidae, and Rhagophthalmidae among beetles; as well as members of the genera Arachnocampa, Keroplatus, and Orfelia among keroplatid fungus gnats.


Caving and Glow Worms in the Auckland region:

Whatipu Sea Caves
Waipu Caves
Master Cave
Abbey Caves
Two Tone Cave
Rangitoto Lava Caves
Bethells Beach Sea Caves


Glow worms galaxies and prehistoric ancient underground realms.

Caving and seeking Glow Worms in New Zealand is an established hobby as well as being a part of commercial cave tourism.

Recreational caving is practised by several hundred members of caving associations all over New Zealand, who take advantage of the widespread limestone karst cave systems present in the country, especially in the Waitomo District of the North Island and in the Nelson-Tasman region of the South Island. There are also several hundred thousands of visitors to various tourist caves and glow worms in New Zealand per year, though a majority of these trips would not properly be called caving.

Caving and Glow Worms exploration in New Zealand is thought to have started with a group of Auckland-area people who started to discover the lava caves in the volcanic cones of the area in the 1940s (though commercialised trips through caves at Waitomo Caves had actually already existed for several decades). The caving group quickly progressed to exploring caves in the Waikato and King Country areas, and the New Zealand Speleological Society was founded in 1949 by Henry Lambert, with the first rough facilities at Waitomo being established in 1955.


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Caving Credentials

SNM are NZOIA qualified guides and members.

Promoting excellence in outdoor instruction and guiding through qualifications for professionals since 1987.

SNM are NZSS members.

The New Zealand Speleological Society (NZSS) is the national organising body for recreational caving in New Zealand.  They promote the sport of caving, the exploration of caves and the conservation of caves and the karst landscapes they reside in.  The NZSS also operates the NZ Cave Search and Rescue system on behalf of LandSAR and SAR NZ.