Footwhistle Glowworm Cave

Footwhistle Cave - Te Anaroa Cave

Useful Information

Location: South of Waitomo.
From Auckland follow State Highway 1 south to Hamilton, then State Highway 3 south to Waitomo. Caves are signposted. From Waitomo Caves Road turn south on Fullerton Road, after 2.5 km turn right on paved road, follow to the end.
(-38.278210, 175.098100)
Open: Currently only limited open hours.
See online booking page for exact dates.
ExplainPost-pandemic Aftermath
Fee: Footwhistle Glowworm Tour: Adults NZD 64, Children (5-17) NZD 39.
Private Glowworm Tour: Group NZD 704.
Glowworm Photography Tour: Group NZD 749.
Sunset Glowworm Tour: Adults NZD 69, Children (5-17) NZD 49.
Private Glowworm Photography Workshop: Group NZD 949.
Classification: SpeleologyKarst cave BiologyGlowworm
Light: LightLED Lighting
Guided tours: Footwhistle Glowworm Tour: D=75 min, MinAge=5, Min=2.
Private Glowworm Tour: D=75 min, Min=1, Max=11.
Glowworm Photography Tour: D=120 min, Max=4.
Sunset Glowworm Tour: D=75 min.
Private Glowworm Photography Workshop: D=4 h.
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Address: CaveWorld Waitomo, 23 Waitomo Village Road, Waitomo, Free: 0800-228396, Tel: +64-7-878-6577, Fax: +64-7-878-6565.
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.


1887 first explored by Tane Tinorau, a local Maori chief, and Fred Mace, an English surveyor.
1889 Tane Tinorau opened the cave to tourists.
1989 the land and the cave were returned to the descendants of the original owners.
1903 land confiscated.
01-JUL-1992 opened under the name Waitomo Down Under.
2010 Footwhistle Tour opened to the public.


The Footwhistle Cave has, like all caves at Waitoma, a lot of glowworms. It is also privately owned, their owners are convinced this is the best glowworm cave of the world. The cave is developed with trails, but for obvious reasons there is no electric light. The owners have opened the cave as a show cave. Originally the tickets were sold at the Waitomo Tourist Information, and this address is still listed. But there is a new, paved road to a parking lot, a small visitor center, and a short walk to the cave entrance.

CaveWorld Waitomo is operated by descendants of Tane Tinorau, the Maori chief who introduced Fred Mace to the Waitomo Cave. He was the explorer of Glowworm cave and one of the first cave guides at Waitomo. The tours are similar to those of other organisations at Waitomo, but with a strong Maori perspective. The guide tell Maori myths and legends.

The company was opened under the name Waitomo Down Under cousins JoJo Davis and Richard Carnachan in 1992. At this time the name of the cave was still Te Anaroa Cave. The name Te Anaroa Cave is Maori for Long Cave. Such descriptive names tend to be rather common and so there is a second tourist cave named ShowcaveTe Anaroa Cave on South Island. Originally they offered black water rafting with tubes, cave trekking, and abseiling tours. There was a 45 m abseil into Baby Grand Cave, which is another entrance of the same cave. Two tour started with this abseil, and then left the cave on the Te Anaroa cave river. In 2010, after further development, the Footwhistle Tour was opened to the public. The cave is now a show cave with glowworm tours and the cave tubing was abandoned as far as we know. Since then the company is named CaveWorld Waitomo, which is a much better name in our opinion.

There is actually only one tour, which includes the shuttle from the Visitor Center in Waitomo to the cave. The trail leads down an impressive gorge into the cave. The cave has nice speleothems and a huge chamber, which is quite impressive. At one point the bones of a Moa, the extinct flightless bird of New zealand which resembled a ostrich. The cave is carefully illuminated with solar-powered LED light. The light ends when you reach the cave river, where the glowworms are. They can obviously only be seen when there is no light.

This tour is quite exceptional, as it does not require floating or tubing the river, or sit in boat in order to see the glowworms. Even more exceptional is the chance to take pictures of glowworms. As this is quite difficult and takes a tripod and a lot of time if you want good pictures, they offer photography tours too. The guide is quite helpful with advice how they are best shot. The tours are so exceptional, they were sold out for half a year when we last checked. However, this might also be a result of Covid-19, so you should check the online booking for current info.