Kawiti Glowworm Caves

Waiomio Glowworm Caves - Kawiti Family Glowworm Caves

Useful Information

Location: At Waiomio.
50 km north of Whangarei, 5 km south of Kawakawa, 1 km off the main highway.
(-35.409212, 174.083733)
Open: Summer daily 9-16.
Winter daily 10-14.
Closed 25-DEC.
Fee: Adults NZD 40, Children (5-15) NZD 20, Children (0-4) free, Families (2+2) NZD 100.
Groups (20+): after appointment.
Classification: SpeleologyKarst Cave BiologyGlowworm
Light: glowworms
Dimension: L=200 m.
Guided tours: D=30 min.
Photography: No photography or video recording inside the caves.
Accessibility: no
Address: Kawiti Glow Worm Caves, 49 Waiomio Road, Waiomio, Kawakawa 0291, Tel: +64-9404-0583, Fax: +64-9404-1267. 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.


17th century caves discovered by Roku.
1950s opened as a show cave by Te Tawai Kawiti.
2007 cave visited by Bill Gates.


Kawiti Glow Worm Caves is located near Waiomio. The small cave, some 200 m long, up to 20 m high and 12 m wide, is developed for tourists. There is a wooden walkway and handrails leading to the cave and through. But there is no electric light and paved paths like in normal show caves. Only small groups of visitors are taken into the cave in order to protect the cave and its inhabitants. Obviously the cave has glowworms (Arachnocampa luminosa). Those insect larvae are extremely sensitive for sound, light, even changes in humidity and temperature. Hence, the restrictions in the number of visitors. Another inhabitant of the cave is a pet eel, which can be stroked.

The Kawiti Glowworm Caves is named after the warrior chief Kawiti. He is known as a famous peacemaker among his own people. The show cave was opened in the 1950s by Te Tawai Kawiti, his great grandson. The cave is owned by his descendants until today, represented by the Te Tawai me Maata Kawiti Whanau Trust. Hence, it is sometimes called Kawiti Family Glowworm Caves. The location of the cave is called Waiomio, a Maori word which means “meandering waters”. As a result the caves are also known as Waiomio Glowworm Caves.

Several whanau (members of the family) are employed as guides. The Maori humour is a great advantage of this worthwhile tour. The tour is followed by a 10 minutes walk back to the car park through native rain forest and karst limestone formations. The bizarre rock formations are a combination of limestone and sandstone.

According to legend the cave was discovered in the early 17th century by Roku, runaway wife of Haumoewarangi of the Tribe Ngatitu. She was living in the cave where she hid from her husband. Here she was found by Hineamaru, the famous cheiftainess of the Ngati hine Tribe. It seems the group of people around Hineamaru, her father and her brothers, were exiled by their old tribe. In search for new uninhabited land they came to Waiomio, where they found a fertile valley which was uninhabited. Exploring the valley, Hineamaru discovered trodden Tawa berries which made her curious if there were other people. No other members of her group had come this way, so they could not be responsible. Further towards the hill, she smelled the smoke from Roku's fire. It came from a cave where she found a woman sitting by a fire. The tribe lives here until today.