Ananui Cave

Metro Cave - Nile River Glowworm Caves

Useful Information

Location: Near Westport, Paparoa National Park, between Westport and Greymouth, at the Nile river.
Tickets: 182 Queen St, Westport.
Open: Underworld Rafting: All year daily 9, 14.
Adventure Caving: All year daily 9, 14.
Charleston Gloworm Cave Tour: All year daily 9, 11:30, 14.
Fee: Underworld Rafting: Adults NZD 165, minimum age 10.
Adventure Caving: Adults NZD 330.
Charleston Gloworm Cave Tour: Adults NZD 105.
Classification: SpeleologyKarst cave. Oligocene limestone BiologyGlowworm
Light: electric torch provided
Dimension: L=8,000 m.
Guided tours: Underworld Rafting: D=4 h.
Adventure Caving: D=5 h.
Charleston Gloworm Cave Tour: D=3 h.
V=5,000/a [2000]
Address: Paparoa National Park Visitor Centre, 4294 Coast Road, Punakaiki, RD 1, Runanga 7873, Tel +64-3-731-1895, Fax +64-3-731-1888. E-mail:
Norwest Adventures Ltd., 182 Queen St, Westport, Tel: ++64-3-788-8168, Free: 0800-11-6686. E-mail: contact
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.


1987 Norwest Adventures Ltd. established.


Metro Cave is another name of Ananui Cave, or at least of a certain branch of the cave system. Here the main passage is a big as an underground tube, and so it was named after the Paris underground: Metro. The name Ananui Cave is often wrongly given as Aranui Cave, obviously mixed up with Aranui Cave at Waitomo on the North Island. The wild cave is located at Paparoa National Park and said to be one of the largest cave systems of the country. However, this fact seems to be based on an article from Die Höhle from 1969 and is not true any more, as several much longer cave systems have been explored since then.

For some time the cave is now called Nile River Glowworm Caves, at least for its touristic exploit. It is toured with both, tube rafting, a typical New Zealand sport also called Black Water Rafting, and normal caving eco tours. Actually we are not sure why the tours are called "eco", as cave visitation always destoys something inside the fragile cave environment. We guess its because they teach their visitors at least the basic rules of soft caving.

This cave is not a show cave but it is gated, visitors should definitely take a tour from Norwest Adventures Ltd. Caving is dangerous, and this company has experienced guides and provides necessary equipment, like a helmet and light. They offer three tours of different difficulty. All tours include a coach ride to the park and a ride on the Nile River Rainforest Train, which brings the visitors through primeval rain forest to the Nile River Cave System.

The walking tour is called Charleston Gloworm Cave Tour, and is almost a normal show cave tour. Nevertheless it is a three hour tour and requires to walk for two hours on uneven ground, the tour path is not prepared. Participant are equipped with caving helmets, coats and boots if necessary. Warm clothing and robust footwear is advisable. The trip includes a wealth of speleothems, glowworms, and the huge passages of Metro Cave.

The second tour is the Underworld Rafting, where participant get a wet suit, helmet, and a tube. They climb into the cave, walk some distance in the upper dry cave section, then lower to the active level of the cave and float down the river in the tubes. In the calm parts of the river, the glowworms on the ceiling can be studied in silence. In others the rapids offer some white water fun. After leaving the cave there are again rapids outside, called Nile River Rapids.

The third tour is called Adventure Caving. This demanding tour includes vertical caving, the abseil down Hi Hi Tomo and a tour of Te Tahi Cave. Some rifts are climbed on rope ladders. The tour includes lots of climbing, stooping, and crawling. This tour requires defintely fitness and some experience.

This is one of the longest caves in New Zealand and impressive for many size superlatives. Beneath the huge passages, the entrance is ordinary in size: 50 m high and about 45 m wide. The cave shows numerous beautiful speleothems. Like most caves in New Zealand it also has glowworms.