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About Waitomo

Waitomo, in the central North Island, is an area renowned for limestone caves, glow-worms, adventure and fun, and is a place not to be missed. The name Waitomo comes from the Maori wai, water and tomo, hole or shaft. Activities centre around a small village called Waitomo Caves (or simply Waitomo) where the Museum of Caves is the focal point.

For more than 100 years the Glow-worm Cave of Waitomo has attracted millions of people from all over the world. The Glow Worm, a small glowing insect no bigger than an average mosquito, has fascinated and intrigued people from all walks of life. The walk-through guided tours of the Glowworm and Aranui caves may seem tame in comparison to the adventure caving trips, but are still well worth doing to see the exceptional beauty of these caves.

About Glowworms

Glowworms are the larval stage in the life of an insect called the fungus gnat. Although they are most spectacular in caves, glowworms are also quite common outside - they can be found wherever conditions are damp, food is in good supply and there is an overhanging wall. The scientific name of the New Zealand species is Arachnocampa luminosa. Similar glow-worms can be found in the south-east of Australia.

Most spectacular in caves, glowworms are also quite common outside - they can be found wherever conditions are damp, food is in good supply and there is an overhanging wall. The scientific name of the New Zealand species is Arachnocampa luminosa. Similar glow-worms can be found in the south-east of Australia.

The New Zealand glow-worm is one of many creatures that naturally produce light (bioluminescence). The light is the result of a chemical reaction that involves several components: LUCIFERIN, a waste product; LUCIFERASE, the enzyme that acts upon luciferin; ATP, adenosine triphosphate, the energy molecule; and oxygen. These combined form an electronically excited product capable of emitting a blue-green light.

The light is used to attract insects, brought into the cave in the rivers, which the glowworm catches and eats. If a glowworm is hungry its light will shine a little brighter and is even more effective. When the female glowworm reaches the adult stage the light is used to attract males for mating.

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