List of caves in New Zealand

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The following is a list of some of the more well known caves and caverns in New Zealand .


Not all caves have an official name as set by the New Zealand Geographic Board. The national caving association maintains maps of all known surveyed caves and the name is generally allocated by the group who first discovered the cave.

North Island caves

South Island caves

See also

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Geography of New Zealand

New Zealand is an island country located in the south-western Pacific Ocean, near the centre of the water hemisphere. It consists of a large number of islands, estimated around 600, mainly remnants of a larger land mass now beneath the sea. The two main islands by size are the North Island and the South Island, separated by the Cook Strait; the third-largest is Stewart Island, located 30 kilometres off the tip of the South Island across Foveaux Strait. The three largest islands stretch 1,500 kilometres across latitudes 34° to 47° south. It is the sixth-largest island country in the world with a land size of 267,710 km2 (103,360 sq mi).

North Island The northern of the two main islands of New Zealand

The North Island, also officially named Te Ika-a-Māui, is one of the two main islands of New Zealand, separated from the larger but much less populous South Island by Cook Strait. The island's area is 113,729 square kilometres (43,911 sq mi), making it the world's 14th-largest island. It has a population of 3,702,300.

Mount Erebus volcano on Ross Island, Antarctica

Mount Erebus is the second-highest volcano in Antarctica and the southernmost active volcano on Earth. It is the sixth-highest ultra mountain on the continent. With a summit elevation of 3,794 metres (12,448 ft), it is located in the Ross Dependency on Ross Island, which is also home to three inactive volcanoes: Mount Terror, Mount Bird, and Mount Terra Nova.

Te Kuiti Minor urban area in Waikato, New Zealand

Te Kuiti is a town in the north of the King Country region of the North Island of New Zealand. It lies at the junction of State Highways 3 and 30 and on the North Island Main Trunk railway, 80 kilometres (50 mi) south of Hamilton. At the 2001 census it had a resident population of 4,374, a decrease of 5.1% since 1991. The town promotes itself as the sheep shearing capital of the world and is host to the annual New Zealand National Shearing Championships.

Waitomo Place in Waikato, New Zealand

Waitomo is a rural community in the Waikato Region of New Zealand's North Island. It includes Waitomo Caves, a solutional cave system and popular local tourist attraction. Two villages, Waitomo and Hangatiki/Hangātiki, service visiting tourists.

Waitomo District Territorial authority in Waikato Region, New Zealand

Waitomo District is a territorial authority, located in the Waikato region, at the north of the King Country area in the North Island of New Zealand. A small part of the district, the town of Tiroa, however, lies in the Manawatu-Wanganui region.

Bulmer Cavern cave

Bulmer Cavern is New Zealand's longest cave system, running for 66 km through Mount Owen in the Tasman region of the northwest South Island. John Patterson discovered the cave on New Year's Day 1984, by dropping a rock down and counting the seconds until it reached the bottom.

Mount Maunganui Place in Bay of Plenty, New Zealand

Mount Maunganui is a major residential, commercial and industrial suburb of Tauranga, located on a peninsula to the north-east of Tauranga's city centre. It was an independent town from Tauranga until the completion of the Tauranga Harbour Bridge in 1988, which connects Mount Maunganui to Tauranga's central business district.

Show cave Cave managed by an organization and made accessible to the general public, usually for an entrance fee

A show cave — also called tourist cave, public cave, and in the United States, commercial cave — is a cave which has been made accessible to the public for guided visits.

<i>Arachnocampa luminosa</i> Species of fly

Arachnocampa luminosa, commonly known as New Zealand glowworm or simply glowworm, is a species of fungus gnat endemic to New Zealand. The larval stage and the imago produce a blue-green bioluminescence. The species is known to dwell in caves and on sheltered banks in native bush where humidity is high. Its Māori name is titiwai, meaning "projected over water".

Waitomo Glowworm Caves cave in New Zealand

The Waitomo Glowworm Caves attraction is a cave at Waitomo on the North Island of New Zealand. It is known for its population of Arachnocampa luminosa, a glowworm species found exclusively in New Zealand. This cave is part of the Waitomo Caves system that includes the Ruakuri Cave and the Aranui Cave.

Gardners Gut cave in New Zealand

Gardner's Gut is an extensive cave system in the Waitomo area of New Zealand. It is located in the Ruakuri Caves & Bush Scenic Reserve, an area that also contains a number of other natural features of note. The reserve is administered by New Zealand's Department of Conservation (DOC). With a length of over 12 km of explored passages, it is New Zealand's 6th largest known cave system, and the largest in the North Island.

Caving in New Zealand

Caving in New Zealand is an established hobby as well as being a part of commercial tourism.

The Waikato and King Country regions of New Zealand are built upon a basement of greywacke rocks, which form many of the hills. Much of the land to the west of the Waikato River and in the King Country to the south has been covered by limestone and sandstone, forming bluffs and a karst landscape. The volcanic cones of Karioi and Pirongia dominate the landscape near Raglan and Kawhia Harbours. To the east, the land has been covered with ignimbrite deposits from the Taupo Volcanic Zone. Large amounts of pumice from the Taupo Volcanic Zone have been deposited in the Waikato Basin and Hauraki Plains.

Falemauga Caves

The Falemauga Caves are large natural caverns in a series of lava-tunnels situated in the Tuamasaga district along the central ridge of Upolu island in Samoa. The caves have been studied by archaeologists in Samoa with evidence of human occupation in pre-history. They were also used as a place of refuge by the people of Tuamasaga.

The Waitomo frog is an extinct species of the genus Leiopelma from New Zealand.

State Highway 37 (SH 37) is a New Zealand state highway in the Waikato/Waitomo region of the North Island. It exists as a small spur from SH 3 to the Waitomo Caves, one of New Zealand's best-known tourist attractions. It was gazetted as a new state highway designation in 1997.

Ruakuri Cave Cave site and burial site in New Zealand

Ruakuri Cave is the largest cave in the Waitomo area of New Zealand. It was first discovered by local Māori between 400 and 500 years ago. The name Ruakuri, or "two dogs" was created when wild dogs were discovered making their home in the cave entrance some 300 years later.


  1. Grzelewski, Derek. "Tales of the underworld". New Zealand Geographic. Retrieved 10 October 2019.