Experience a mysterious underground world of rushing water before drifting in silent darkness beneath the luminous shimmer of hundreds of glowworms.
Your trip to the Te Anau Glowworm Caves begins with a cruise to the western shores of Lake Te Anau on one of our purpose-built scenic cruise vessels.
At the entry to the caves at Cavern House, view the informative displays and learn about this geological wonder before you join your guide underground. On the tour of the caves, our friendly guides will point out the highlights and share their knowledge of the caves and its history.
This underground world is astonishingly beautiful. By geological standards the caves are very young (12,000 years) and are still being carved out by the force of the river that flows through them. The result is a twisting network of limestone passages filled with sculpted rock, whirlpools and a roaring underground waterfall.
Deep inside the caves, beyond the roar of the water, you will be taken by small boat into a silent hidden grotto inhabited by hundreds of glowworms, unique to New Zealand. In the subterranean darkness, they produce a glittering display that is nothing short of extraordinary.
Duration: 2hrs 15 mins
Includes return cruise across Lake Te Anau
Optional short guided forest experience to learn about the unique flora of the region
Trip can be done during the day or night
Small group size (maximum 14 per guide)
Wonderful family trip, suitable for all ages with the exception of infants
Some bending is required at the caves entrance and steps are involved
During Oct - mid May we also offer a combined "coach and Te Anau Glowworm Caves" trip departing Queenstown
Glowworms don’t like loud noises – so remember shhh! when you are in the grotto.
The light emitted from the glowworm has been estimated to be equivalent to one thousandth of a millionth of a watt (one nanowatt) in intensity.
Did You Know?
The Te Anau Glowworm caves are approximately 12,000 years old. The Glowworm caves are part of the ‘youngest’ section of the greater Aurora system.
Due to youth, the caves are considered 'high energy', the risk of flooding and low stalactite and stalagmite growth are a sign of this.
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Cruise across Lake Te Anau
Guided tour of the caves by path and by small boat
Unlimited hot drinks
Trips to the Glowworm Caves depart from the Real Journeys Visitor Centre, 85 Lakefront Drive, Te Anau.
Getting to Te Anau
Self drive - Te Anau is about a 2.5 hour drive from Queenstown and around 5 hours from Dunedin.
Coach connections - Alternatively you can choose our coach from Queenstown to Te Anau, visit the Te Anau Glowworm Caves and travel back promptly, so that you arrive in Queenstown late afternoon. This allows you to make the most of your day and potentially fit in another activity.
What to bring
Non-slip shoes/boots, waterproof jacket, warm sweater/fleece jacket (It’s always cold in the cave 8 - 12ºC), sunscreen/ sunglasses, insect repellent and camera.
Note: photography and video filming are NOT permitted inside the cave.
Note: Some bending is required at the caves entrance and steps are involved.
We understand that travelling with children can be expensive, which is why we offer ‘Kids Go Free’ specials including a cruise on Lake Wakatipu on steamship TSS Earnslaw, Walter Peak Farm Tours, Milford Sound, Doubtful Sound, Stewart Island and more.
In case you haven't found the information you were looking for, we've put together some of the most common questions our customers ask about our trips. If you need more specific answers, please contact us directly.
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How long does it take to travel to Te Anau?
From Queenstown to Te Anau by car or coach takes around 2 hrs 45 mins and from Manapouri around 30 minutes. For more information refer to our Driving Times webpage.
Can you use cameras or videos in the Te Anau Glowworm Caves?
Photography and video cameras are not permitted in the Glowworm Caves because flash lights affect the glowworms and visitor acclimatisation to the dark.
What is the best time of day to visit the Glowworm Caves?
It’s always dark inside the caves, so you’ll be able to see the glowworms on any departure. Daylight hours do vary significantly in NZ so for evening tours it may be dark for the cruise across Lake Te Anau to reach the caves, or on your return. Just choose a departure which fits best with your itinerary.
What are conditions like in the caves ?
Inside the caves the temperature is a fairly constant 8 - 12ºCelsius, so bring a warm sweater/fleece jacket. At the entrance to the caves there is a large rock overhang and bending is required to pass this section. There are steps and often the walkways are wet, so care is required in the subdued light.
Online transactions/prices are conducted in what currency?
All prices and transactions on the Real Journeys website are in New Zealand dollars (NZD). This is specified on the Terms & Conditions page.
What happens if there is an emergency ?
Our staff are trained to deal with incidents and in case of an emergency you should listen to their instructions. We have a portable defibrillator on each of our overnight cruise vessels (Milford Mariner, Milford Wanderer and Fiordland Navigator). In addition to this we also have portable defibrillators at the following locations: • Milford Sound Visitor Terminal • Real Journeys Visitor Centre, Manapouri • Cavern House (Te Anau Glowworm Caves) • Colonel’s Homestead Restaurant, Walter Peak • TSS Earnslaw Vintage Steamship • Stewart Island Ferry (Bluff - Oban - Bluff).