Sixtus Lodge Glow Worm Cave

Useful Information

Location: Limestone Road, Āpiti 4774.
From the bridge across Limestone Creek descend stairs, turn right, walk 70 m upstream to the cave entrance.
(-39.97426153779256, 176.00724860000307)
Open: no restrictions.
Fee: free.
Classification: SpeleologyKarst Cave
Light: bring torch
Dimension: L=600 m.
Guided tours: self guided
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Address: Sixtus Lodge, Limestone Road, Āpiti 4774, Tel: +64-21-238-3546. E-mail:
Limestone Creek Reserve Glow Worm Caves, Limestone Road, Āpiti 4774, Tel: +64-6-350-1922. E-mail:
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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1975 Johan & Sigga Bonnevie, searching for a place for Outdoor Education camps, meet Les Sixtus.
1977 Sixtus Lodge Outdoor Education Centre established.


Sixtus Lodge Glow Worm Cave is a semi-wild cave located near Sixtus Lodge Outdoor Education Centre. Located 80 km northeast of Palmerston North, in the foothills of the Western Ruahine Ranges, has 51 beds and offers various outdoor activities. The lodge was named after the late farmer Les Sixtus, who donated his farm, which is now managed by the Sixtus Lodge Trust Board. Johan and Sigga Bonnevie, were searching for a place for Outdoor Education camps for the Parent Teachers Association (PTA). The met Les Sixtus and told him about their search, and he offered a site on his farm for free. After only two years the lodge was opened. It is used by school camps, clubs, friends and family, youth, service, church or study groups, business teams and community organisations.

While the cave is now known as Sixtus Lodge Glow Worm Cave, it is actually named Limestone Creek Reserve Glow Worm Caves. It is a cave ruin, through cave, and the bed of the Limestone Creek. There are numerous openings in the ceiling and natural bridges, a lamp is not required during daylight hours. Limestone Road crosses the creek 1 km before the Lodge, a short, steep and slippery path descends to the creek bed, then it is a walk of about 70 m upstream to the caves entrance. There are signs and a 600 m long loop track marked with a yellow triangle. The best time to see glowworms is during night, when they can be seen both in the cave and along the creek banks. As most of the walk is through the creek we strongly recommend gum boots for the tour, a raincoat is also advisable. Be careful with the lamps, as glowworms are not fond of competition. Best is to walk silently to the entrance, then turn off all lamps and wait as silent as possible for a few minutes. There are also some Wetas living in the area but they are hard to see. Be aware that cave and animals are protected by law, do not break speleothems or try to catch glowworms. They are slippery little buggers anyway.

A drawback is the Ongaonga tree nettle (Urtica ferox), a plant which forms large woody shrubs that can grow to a height of 3 m. It is also called ongaonga, taraonga, taraongaonga, оr okaoka, and is endemic to New Zealand. Unfortunately it has large spines which can cause painful stings which hurt for several days. The spines contain the toxin triffydin (or tryfydin), which contains histamine, serotonin and acetylcholine. Multiple stingings may cause inflammation, a rash, and itching. In high concentrations it causes loss of motor movement, paralysis, drop in blood pressure, convulsions, blurred vision, confusion and in extreme cases, death. However, there has been only one recorded human death. Nevertheless, it's best to avoid them.