Magical Waitomo

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A must-visit destination in the heart of the Waikato

Waitomo is home to the amazing natural wonder of the glowworm caves, but it is a must-visit destination for so much more. Here you have the opportunity to experience an amazing array of adventure activities, beautiful landscapes and comfortable places to stay. Waitomo is just a 15 minute drive from the Otorohanga Train Station, and with reliable transfer services between Otorohanga and Waitomo, getting there by train is a fantastic way to go. 

Discover underground wonders and more

Waitomo boasts not only world-renowned glowworm caves, but so many other adventures. You'll have the chance to explore caves, native bush, beaches and more. A number of companies offer an extensive array of cave tours that will take you right into the home of the magical glowworms.

Ruakuri Cave can be discovered in an underground walking tour or you can take a raft down the eerily beautiful cave river underneath an expansive roof filled with glowworms in the Glowworm Grotto. With the walking tour, you will be taken through the majestic structure beneath the land with hidden waterfalls, stalactites and stalagmites, arches and tunnels.

You can also team up with the best in the business to go abseiling, caving and black water rafting in the caves.

In the Waitomo village, there are opportunities to continue to learn about the area. Head on over to the Waitomo Caves Discovery Centre for extensive historical information right up to the present day, and displays including fossils,caving memorabilia and more.

Accommodation in and around Waitomo

At Waitomo, you'll have your choice of bed and breakfasts, backpacker lodges, holiday parks, motels and farm stays. The bed and breakfasts and farm stays offer a charming and homey environment you'll love to return to every night you're there.

The Montrose Manor farm stay is a hidden gem, smack bang in the centre of this stunning location right next to the caves. You'll feel right at home with freshly baked goods and a full cooked breakfast every morning that you can enjoy in the dining room or beautiful gardens.

The Waitomo Caves Guest Lodge is a comfortable and friendly place to stay and has everything you need. It's situated right next to the Waitomo General Store. It's a short walk to the award winning Huhu Cafe and the Discovery Centre, where you can plan your stay.

Hamilton is just 58km from Otorohanga - if you are looking for more accommodation options, you’ll find plenty here. There are many inexpensive options such as Bavaria and Ulster Lodge Motel, as well as those more upmarket, including the Country Comfort Alcamo Hotel and The Club House.

There are multiple buses that take you straight there, or you can hop aboard the KiwiRail Northern Explorer train. The entire journey by train will take about 40 minutes.

Getting there on the Northern Explorer train

The Northern Explorer departs Auckland Strand Station in Auckland at 7.45am on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays, and arrives at Otorohanga (Waitomo) station at 10.35am. From there, you will need to arrange a transfer get you from the station to the caves, which are approximately a 15 minute drive away. The Waitomo Shuttle - The Caves Connection takes you straight there. It costs $12 per adult and $7 per child for one way, departing throughout the day.

After spending some time enjoying the caves, rafting and exploring Waitomo, the same shuttle service can drop you back in Otorohanga. You can connect with the northbound train to head back to Auckland at 3.45pm on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays, arriving in Auckland at 6.50pm, just in time for dinner.

If you’re beginning your journey in Wellington, the train departs at 7.55am on Tuesday, Friday and Sunday, arriving at Otorohanga at 3.45pm. Catch the train back to the capital city from Otorohanga Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays at 10.35am, arriving at your destination at 6.20pm.

Northern Explorer Timetable

The Northern Explorer operates 6 days a week and departs Auckland on Monday, Thursday and Saturday. Departs Wellington on Tuesday, Friday and Sunday.

Auckland - WellingtonWellington - Auckland
Auckland Strand depart 7.45 am   Wellington depart 7.55 am
Papakura depart 8.35 am Paraparaumu depart 8.40 am
Hamilton depart 10.00 am Palmerston North depart 10.05 am
Otorohanga (Waitomo) depart 10.35 am
Ohakune depart 12.50 pm
National Park depart 1.00 pm
National Park depart
1.20 pm
Ohakune depart
1.35 pm Otorohanga (Waitomo) depart
3.45 pm
Palmerston North depart 4.10 pm Hamilton depart
4.30 pm
Paraparaumu depart 5.30 pm Papakura depart 6.00 pm
Wellington arrive 6.20 pm Auckland arrive 6.45 pm


Please note:

  • Timetables shown are subject to change at short notice.
  • Heat restrictions may cause delays during the summer season.
  • The train may depart intermediate stations earlier if all booked passengers are onboard.
  • Check-in is 20 minutes prior to departure time shown above.
  • The service doesn't operate on a Wednesday.