|Image: The flooded entrance to Waitomo Glowworm Grotto, after heavy rains.|
The Waitomo area has lots of caves. Three of them, The Glowworm Grotto, Ruakuri Cave and Aranui Cave are developed for visitors. Some other caves are guided in Black Water Rafting or Adventure tours. Very interesting is also the Museum of Caves. This is the center of all caving activities, ticket office and staring point for most tours.
The name Waitomo comes from the Maori wai=water and tomo=hole or shaft. This name tells a lot about the area: a lot of karst features as karst springs, ponors, dolines and natural bridges are to be seen here.
In 2009 the construction of a new Visitor Centre started, with the opening date scheduled for early 2010. It is designed to create a minimal intervention, by following the contours of the land and the meandering Waitomo stream that lies below. As far as we understood it will not be a new cave museum, but a sort of touristic infrastructure with two level restaurant with 200 seats, 50 seat café, and retail space for gifts and souvenirs. The building will be a sort of tent like construction, with Teflon-style glass ceiling.