If you want to explore a cave on your own and experience standing under millions of glow worms in complete darkness, we can highly recommend a visit in the Waipu caves.
It’s absolutely amazing. And – in comparison to the more famous Waitomo caves – it doesn’t cost you 50 bucks per person, (it’s completely free), you can take your time and explore the caves as long as you like and even take pictures (if you have a good flash for the caves, or a tripod for long exposures to capture the worms) – which is apparently not allowed in Waitomo, where you can buy pictures instead…
Just remember to bring a good torch or headlight, and good waterproof shoes. Depending on the amount of rain the past days you might have to cross through water. When we visited, it was just an inch or so high, so easy to walk through without really getting wet. But you might choose to wade through the water to explore it further. It is also a bit slippery, but not too difficult to walk in there. The best time to come, if you want to enjoy the serenity of a dark and silent cave under the glow worms, is probably in the morning. The place might not be as famous as Waitomo and be a bit more off the beaten track, but it’s far from being a secret. There weren’t a lot of people around when we were there, around 10 in the morning, but at noon it began to get a little bit more busy.
The walking track outside the caves, through mysteriously looking woods, is also quite nice.