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Rotorua, the Volcanic City
Kiwi Speak
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The Waitomo Caves
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The Waitomo Caves

The word wai means water & tomo meaning underground caves. These are the limestone caves which are unique in the world. There are such only 10 caves available in the world & one of them is the waitomo caves. Waitomo is situated less than 50 miles to the south of Hamilton in the Waikato region. In 1880, the discoverers of this ‘domain of beauty in forbidding darkness’ found hundreds of miles of labyrinthine caves, glow worms, stalactites & stalagmites, & all manner of limestone crustations- a lost world. Here you can slip silently on a barge to admire the beauty & grandeur of the Caves. The Maori chief, Tane Tinorua & the English surveyor, Fred Mace first explored the Waitomo Caves in 1887.The explorers were amazed to discover how large & beautiful the caves were, complete with thousands of glow worms & limestone structure. Since this discovery the Waitomo Caves have had thousands of visitors from all over the world. The caves have provided money & jobs for local people for over a hundred years. Cave tours are offered daily & a cave museum is located at the site. Many tourists go “Black Water Rafting”- floating through an underground cave stream in a tyre. In 1911, the caves had to be closed & handed over to the government after vandals caused damage. In 1979 the glow worm cave was closed for 4 months as only 4% of the glow worms had their lights on. In 1989 the caves & the land were returned to the local Maori who now receive a % of the money made at the caves. More recently concerns has been raised over damage to limestone features. The half million visitors per year increase temperature & carbon dioxide levels in the caves, damaging the cave features.

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