Shannon. 24. Graphic Designer. Straight and Single Female. Classic & Horror Film Fan. I am a magically effervescent being who lives in "Waterfall Paradise Land" aka the mountains of Northeast Alabama (you should see it in the autumn). I've got too much time on my hands. I think my mask of sanity is about to slip.
As the nights get shorter, disappointed star gazers may be heartened to know that there is another way to get their star fix—by heading underground. These alternative heavenly bodies are the glowworms of the Waitomo caves in New Zealand that create a perpetual, remarkable night sky along the ceilings of the caves. The Waitomo caves have been around for millions of years and dazzling paying visitors for more than a century. Their bioluminescent decor is courtesy of the Arachnocampa luminosa, a glowworm species only found in New Zealand. In their larval stage, these glowworms go fishing with long silk threads called “snares,” creating sticky candelabras. These drippy traps reflect and diffuse the glowworm’s native light, enhancing the starry-night effect for cave-bound sky gazers. Although there are many ways to explore the caves, a standard tour takes about 45 minutes and includes a boat ride through the particularly twinkly Glowworm Grotto. Check out this earth-bound planetarium below.
The glowworms of the Waitomo caves are a species only found in New Zealand.
The 300 caves of the Waitomo cave system began forming 30 million years ago.
The name “Waitomo” comes from the Maori words “wai,” meaning water, and “tomo,” meaning hole.
The first guided tours of the Waitomo caves began in 1889.
Cave conditions are closely monitored and tourist volume is determined by what is best for glowworm health.
Hungry glowworms actually glow brighter than ones who have just eaten.
The sticky silk hunting technique inspired the genus the name “Arachnocampa,” meaning “spider-worm.”
The standard Waitomo cave tour ends with a boat ride through the very twinkly Glowworm Grotto.