New Zealand is a country full of natural surprises and the underground Waitomo Caves are no exception. Sitting beneath the surface of the town of Waitomo, rests an entire underground cave system aged over 30 million years! The main attraction to Waitomo Caves are the mosquito sized glowworms that live on the roof canal of some of the caves.

Located west of Rotorua in the heart of New Zealand's North Island, Waitomo Caves can be explored by boat, abseil, tubes or a number of guided tours that will have you sliding, swimming and walking through this huge underground wonderland.

New Zealand Waitomo Caves, Inside of one cave

[Peter Bastion](

'Wai' is the Maori word for water and 'Tomo' is the meaning for hole in the ground - hence the name Waitomo.

The caves are made of limestone rock and the formations and walk-through cathedral like structures are formed by shells and bones of ancient marine fossils.

Cathedral in Waitomo Caves

By Karora - Own work, Public Domain, Link

You are probably asking the question "why do the glowworms glow?" The tails of the worms are what is called bio luminescent. This means that the chemical produced in their tails generate light when reacting with Oxygen. They create a sticky web like thread that hangs from the roof of the cave and the light is used to attract insects - or in glowworm world - food!

Sticky Glow Worm Strands

[Tim Parkinson]( - [license](

The stunning Glowing Glow Worms

By [2ilOrg]( - [license](

Photographer Shaun Jeffers recently captured some amazing photos of the limestone cave structure and its gleaming inhabitants. To see his spectacular photos visit his website here:

Main image: Donnieray on Flickr - license

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