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Waitomo Caves, nearby bush and forest walks

  • 4 minutes

Waikato, North Island

Waitomo Caves are a top visitor attraction yet many visitors miss out exploring what to do nearby. Close by the Waitomo Caves are short walks that introduce visitors to temperate forest reserves, an extraordinary natural rock Mangapohue Bridge and a beach only accessible through a tunnel originally designed to herd livestock along a remote beach.

Ruakuri Cave Adventure, Waitomo Glowworm Cave, New Zealand
Ruakuri Cave Adventure, Waitomo Glowworm Cave, New Zealand

WaitomoCave walks – Ruakuri Bush and Scenic Reserve

Highlight for families & kids

  • Attractive forest & gorge walks
  • Tunnels with glow worms at night
  • Cave formations in a twilight world
  • Picnic tables and toilets for day trip

The Department of Conservation (DOC) describes the reserve as ‘ Ruakuri offers a limestone landscape, picturesque native forest and an opportunity to study a threatened species – the long-tailed bat.’ In places the walk is In places it is cantilevered above rushing water.

Access is free and there are glow worms at night.  DOC helpfully provides a very detailed schoolchildren guide for kids (of all age groups) that will keep boredom at bay.

Ruakuri Caves and Bush Scenic Reserve field trip: Waikato field trips

Location: Five minutes from Waitomo Cave Village

Stalagmites and stalactites in Ruakuri Cave, Waitomo, New Zealand
Stalagmites and stalactites in Ruakuri Cave, Waitomo, New Zealand
@Waitomo Caves Hotel
@Waitomo Caves Hotel

Waitomo Cave walks – Waitomo lookout point

This walk is a detour on the Waitomo Walkway. A steady climb gets walkers to the lookout. There are views of the Art Deco Waitomo Hotel with its Edwardian splendor, rolling farmland dotted with sheep and the outcrops of karst landscape. It is picturesque and the short 600m climb.

  • Length: 600m steep elevation
  • Grade: Can be slippery in wet weather
  • NOTE: Carpark, toilets and picnic tables

Waitomo Cave walks – Waitomo walkway

Visitors are privileged to have access to pathways across private farmland. There are orange markets indicating the route. There are stiles to cross and the track is largely a rough walking track on farm grassland. Suspension bridges cross streams with the walk finishing at the Ruakuri Scenic Reserve car park.

  • Length: 3.5km (one way) return by same route or arrange pickup at Ruakuri carpark
  • Duration: 1 ½ hours
  • Grade: Easy
  • Start: Waitomo Domain opposite caves museum (signposted)
Glow worm caves in Waitomo Caves, New Zealand
Glow worm caves in Waitomo Caves, New Zealand

Want to spend some time exploring the Waikato check out the following accommodation options

Opapaka Pa Walk @DOC

Opapaka Pa archeological site

The pa (village) was occupied in the 1770’s and the site of significant battle with afterwards the village being largely abandoned. Defence structures (trenches) and kumara pits are evident at the pa site. The walk is through native forest with trees bearing species identification and traditional use notes. The walk does not have steps however it is steep up to the site and crosses private farmland. The stiles onto the private land are clearly marked with orange markers. There could be stock in the paddocks being crossed.

  • Start: Waitomo Adventure Centre
  • Duration: ½ – ¾ hour (one way)

Check DOC resource for up to date information.

Nearby Waitomo Caves – West Coast beaches

Waitomo Caves what to do nearby, follow the road beyond the tourist circuit and locate a beach where access is a tunnel built to move livestock along the beach. There is a magnificent waterfall Marokopa Falls Walk on an easy short track to find the Mangapohue Bridge Walk. For inspiration check out What’s so great about Marokopa, what to see and best things to do.

Mangapohue Natural Bridge at New Zealand
Mangapohue Natural Bridge at New Zealand

Travel pack information

Check the Waitomo King Country What’s so great about:



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