The Aranui Cave is, in my opinion, the prettiest of the main caves at Waitomo. There is hardly a place on the roof of the cave where there isn’t limestone decoration. We did this tour in a 3-cave combo – Waitomo Glow-worm Cave, Aranui Cave and Ruakuri Cave. We had to drive ourselves from Waitomo Village to the cave carpark (about 10 minutes drive) and found our guide waiting there for us. The Aranui Cave has a natural entrance and just inside this our guide pointed out a colony of cave weta. These are unique to New Zealand and date back to the dinosaur age. They have very long legs and antennae, and leave the cave at night to find food on the forest floor. Scary-looking creatures! Once past the entrance, the first formation we came across was one called the Butcher’s Shop – quite amazing as it just looks like great hunks of meat. Amongst other sights in the cave we saw one of the largest stalagtites in the area – said to be about 2.5 tonnes and 6 metres long – and beautiful coral-like formations. This cave should be on your ‘don’t miss’ list if you can possibly help it. It’s smaller than the other caves in the combo but you can visit it on its own. Photography is allowed and I recommend comfortable shoes.
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