North Island in New Zealand is home to one of earth’s most incredible and jaw-dropping locations, the spectacular bioluminescent caves.
There are many living organisms on earth that emit bioluminescence, from insects to fish, but the cause for the incredible sight within the Waitomo caves are worms. The scientific name for them is Arachnocampa Luminosa and they are known as the ‘New Zealand glowworm’. If you’re in New Zealand, they’re referred to as simply ‘Glowworm’.
The bioluminescent caves are more commonly known as the Waitomo Glowworm Caves of North Island due to the cause for this incredible sight being bioluminescent glowworms. They were first explored in 1887 by a local named Maori Chief Tane Tinorau who was accompanied by an English surveyor, Fred Mace.
The glow is attributed to luciferase enzyme acting upon a small molecule of luciferin. This causes the larvae to glow and actually attracts prey into their threads. When their bioluminescence is activated, they look similar to the Turritopsis dohrnii, which is the only immortal creature on the planet.
The underground bioluminescent cave is like walking into an alien world or as if the stars of the night sky are only a stone throw away. When you add the calming sound of the flowing water through the cave, this place is literally the eighth wonder of the world.
Auckland photographer, Joseph Michael, who studied the caves for months, shared that his ‘weapon of choice’ was a Nikon D810, which he considered the best camera for working in darkness. Michael also shared:
“After spending the night in the cave, when you get out, the sounds of birds and insects seem very intense.”
This labyrinth of underground passages have literally thousands of glowworms that light up the darkest areas and as you can see the sight they create for visitors is simply mesmerizing.
The bioluminescent Waitomo Glowworm Caves have become relatively well-known, but their magnificence is still a secret to many people, which is why we want to share this New Zealand marvel with our community.
The glowworms won’t show themselves unless they’re in almost complete darkness, but when they do, the view is completely hypnotic;