The Glowing Caves of Waitomo That Prove Magic Still Exists

A new 360° video from National Geographic bring to life the natural wonder. | By NGT Staff  
Waitomo New Zealand
Waitomo cave’s glowing secrets were first explored by Maori chief Tane Tinorau in the company of an English surveyor in 1887. More recently, the subterranean cavern system was opened to tourists. Photo: National Geographic/YouTube

The ceiling of the Waitomo Caves in New Zealand looks like a star-speckled night sky. But those aren’t celestial bodies burning in the dark—they’re hundreds of glowworms that live here, transforming the cave into a fairytale landscape. Take a closer look at the tiny, bioluminescent creatures and the fairytale landscape they create with this video from National Geographic.

The interactive video allows viewers to click and scroll through the cave, choosing to look up, down, left, or right. The creators of the video took almost 2,000 photographs and spent close to 60 hours underground capturing footage for the final product. (Fair warning: It’s easy to lose track of time and watch the video on loop.)

The glowworms are just part of the lure of the Waimoto Caves. This subterranean system of 300 caves also has impossibly delicate stalactite formations in various caverns and is home to the Cathedral, a world-famous formation that has superb acoustics due to its rough walls and enclosed shape. It’s open to tourists too, and attracts a number of adrenaline junkies who come here for black water rafting: tubing down shallow water channels, jumping off waterfalls, and rafting down the dark waters of unlit caves. Black water rafting at Waitomo is usually part of cave exploration packages with various options to choose from depending on fitness levels.