Auckland to Waitomo

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#1
Tennessee
40 Posts
Joined Jan 2008
We have a cruise planned that ends in Auckland. I've always wanted to see the Glow worm caves. During research I read about tubing in the caves and that sounds Awesome. Our ship arrives at 6am. I'm having trouble finding a way out to the caves that would definitely have time for both-tubing and seeing Glowworm Grotto. Does anyone have ideas about transportation that would work? Can it be accomplished in one day and get back to Auckland. I don't think Driving is an option as we have never driven on "the other side of the road" Thanks for any help!
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#2
Sydney, Australia
7,525 Posts
Joined Jan 2014
I had a quick look and there doesn't seem to be any tours from Auckland that do both in one day but you might like to contact Waitomo, they may be able to help you. http://www.waitomo.com/

The black water rafting takes about three hours, I did it many, many years ago and it was fantastic. I think the one I did is now called the Black Labyrinth. You will see glowworms during the rafting trip.
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#3
Tennessee
40 Posts
Joined Jan 2008
Thanks, OzKiwiJJ! The black Labyrinth is the one my husband really wants to do.
Does anyone know if there are a Lot of Glow Worms on that tour
or another tour that would have the rafting and a Lot of the Glow Worms.
I love the pictures where it looks like the whole room lights up at Glow worm Grotto.
This is our 1st trip and living so far away, who knows if we will be back.
I was really hoping it was possible to do both in one day.
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#4
Sydney, Australia
7,525 Posts
Joined Jan 2014
It's a very long time since I did the black water rafting so I can't remember how many glowworms there were and, of course, things might have changed since then. I do remember floating down the underground river, lights off, and seeing quite a few glowworms above. It was pure magic.

The main glowworm cavern at Waitomo is quite spectacular though, it's a much bigger space than the river tunnel of course.

I really recommend you contact Waitomo or one of the tour companies that they suggest to see if it is possible to do both. Theoretically it should be as the normal cave tours only take about an hour. It may just depend on how the bus schedules work. Another alternative, which would be expensive, would be to see if you can do a private tour by car. That way you're not restricted to the bus schedules. Here's one company that offers that. There may be more. http://www.newzealandtours.travel/en...e-luxury-tours
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#5
Tennessee
40 Posts
Joined Jan 2008
Hi OzkiwiJJ
Thanks again for your help!
I contacted Waitomo and they gave me the information that I'd already read on their website. I realize it all depends on timing. Due to our cruise ship arriving at 6am, I'm not sure we could catch their buses. The one bus company I contacted said it wouldnt work unless we overnighted at the cave. (to do both tours) So self drive or the private tour may be our only option. The private tours sound really good, its the price that's a concern!
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#6
Sydney, Australia
7,525 Posts
Joined Jan 2014
Yes, private tours are expensive. But if it's a once-in-a-lifetime experience it may be worth it to you.

If it does prove too expensive for you, and your cruise stops at the Bay of Islands, there are glowworm caves near Paihia that are easy to get to. No black water rafting though.
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#7
Auckland, New Zealand
384 Posts
Joined Nov 2011
You could definitely do this day-return to Auckland although this would be a tiring day. It's a 2.5 hour to 3 hour drive each way (from central Auckland). You'd be heading to an extremely popular tourist destination and the roading is good. I appreciate your trepidation about driving on the correct side of the road but it's actually not too hard to do (we have to adjust when we visit your fine country). You'd be starting on extremely easy roads too. There is an Avis near where the ship docks in Auckland and so getting a rental is easy. NZ is set-up for DIY tourists and so you'd have no trouble really.

The rafting is a lot of fun although I've not done it for around twenty years...
#8
Tennessee
40 Posts
Joined Jan 2008
OzKiwiJJ, Unfortunately we don't stop at Bay of Islands. That would have been a great alternative idea!
MrYellowDuck, We had looked up the road and tried to find information about it, my husband thought it would be drivable for us.
If we drive, the question is what time to set up the 2 different tours at Waitomo.
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#9
Sydney, Australia
7,525 Posts
Joined Jan 2014
I'd recommend doing the Caves tour first, say at 11am or 11:30am. Then book the 1:30pm black water rafting trip. That would give you time to have some lunch.

You would need to be on the road by 7:30am at the latest and would need to allow time to pick up a rental car after disembarking. The best route is highway 1 to just before Hamilton, then highway 39 which goes right through to Waitomo. Highway 1 is the main route down the North Island so is an excellent road. Highway 39 is a lesser route but is a very good road and has much less traffic on it than highway 1.

It will be a very tiring day though, you probably won't get back to Auckland until 8pm at the earliest. It would be better if you could both share the driving.

Is there any possibility that you could stay overnight in Waitomo and drive back to Auckland in the morning?
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#10
Tennessee
40 Posts
Joined Jan 2008
OzKiwiJJ, Thanks for the route and time info! There are 4 of us going, but only 2 want to do Black Water Rafting. We have talked about staying in the town near Waitomo over night, I don't want us traveling back in the dark. The discussion has been that we want time to explore Auckland the next day. If we spend the night later times are probably best I guess. Do you think 2 hours to disembark and get a rental near the port is reasonable. I know ships are late to port sometimes.
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#11
Sydney, Australia
7,525 Posts
Joined Jan 2014
It should be. The Avis agency is in Nelson St and Hertz is nearby in Victoria St, both about 15 minutes walk from the cruise terminals or a very short taxi ride. The tricky bit is that they may not open until 7:30am. What day of the week will you be there and when do you fly out of Auckland?
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#12
Tennessee
40 Posts
Joined Jan 2008
OzKiWiJJ, Thanks soo much for the streets that they are on it made it much easier. You're right they don't open til 7:30/8am so we'll need to plan based on that. I found a nice place to stay in Otorohanga, so that may be what we do.
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#13
Sydney, Australia
7,525 Posts
Joined Jan 2014
Otorohanga is a cute little town. There is also a Kiwi House and native bird park there.

I think staying there is the best option, it will be a long day and tiring for those doing the black water rafting. Also staying in a small country town will let you see a completely different aspect of NZ than you'll see on your cruise.

Hopefully you'll still be able to see something of Auckland the next day.
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#14
California
1,602 Posts
Joined Jan 2007
We went to Waitoma caves in 2010. My DH wanted to do the blackwater rafting and I didn't. He had a terrific time. He also did the glow worm cave tour with me. I just asked him about the difference between the two in glow worms. He said they were much more spectacular on the rafting trip because they were up close to him as the ceilings are low and some dangled in front of him. Apparently everyone turns out their lights (for a short time)... so it isn't for someone who might be claustrophobic or fear of pitch black. We stayed nearby at the Abseil Breakfast Inn that evening. We were coming from the south so I can't tell you about the timing to Aukland.

There are scheduled buses that go to Waitoma:
https://www.busbud.com/en/bus-auckla.../rckq2g-rchw2f
#15
Columbus, OH
84 Posts
Joined Feb 2009
Is there any need to be concerned about the water when you do the rafting? We have been to countries like Belize where they warn you about amoebas in the water.
#16
Sydney, Australia
7,525 Posts
Joined Jan 2014
No, the water is pretty pure there.
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#17
Tennessee
40 Posts
Joined Jan 2008
SoBaycruiser, Thanks for the information! Being in the dark doesnt bother either of us,even in a cave. It would be awesome if the glowworms are even brighter during the black water rafting! I'll just be sad that I cant take pics. My camera is an extension of me usually when I travel. I was really sad about the no cameras at Waitomo or while rafting.
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