This gift experience are two separate experiences based on the West Coast of The South Island. They are located approximately 1 hour drive from each other so plan you day accordingly. They can each be used on separate days.
Experience 1: Glow Worm Caves Tour
Just 20 minutes north of Punakaiki on the Wild West Coast lies the sleepy township of Charleston. But the old gold-mining town hides a spectacular secret: the beautiful Te Ananui (Metro) Caves and one of the best GlowWorm displays you can experience anywhere in the world!
Meeting at the modern Adventure Centre and Cafe, you’ll be equipped with a caving helmet and light. You’ll join one of the professional and passionate guides, starting your journey into the spectacular Paparoa National Park, right on the doorstep of Charleston.
Following a short drive into the deep canyon of the Waitakere (Nile) River, you’ll board the Nile River Rainforest Train for a 20 minute journey into the lush forests of the Paparoa National Park. It’s then just a short walk to Te Ananui, climbing high above the river to the cave entrance.
Leaving daylight behind you will explore Te Ananui as the first explorers did: with only the light you bring. It’s truly one of the few natural and “real” guided cave experiences left: seeing, feeling and getting close to an ancient wonderland sculpted by water and decorated with fragile calcite formations.
Underground you will visit such famous formations as The Altar, the highly decorated ‘Hall of Refugees’, Pancake Corner and more, before you emerge back to daylight at the awe-inspiring Main Entrance of Te Ananui – having journeyed right through the mountain!
A short rest, then you’ll head back to find the stars of the show: Arachnocampa luminosa: the New Zealand GlowWorm. One becomes ten, then a hundred, then thousands. Before your eyes, entire galaxies of GlowWorms appear, spanning the ceiling over your head, following the streamway into the distance. Your guides will enrich your journey with captivating illustrations, explanations and stories connecting you with this special place.
Returning via the same path, you’ll emerge back to the daylight. A short stroll leads back to the train, then to the comparative civilisation of Charleston!
This is an unique journey that takes you into one of the few cave systems still publicly accessible in its natural, unspoiled beauty. It’s a simply stunning Eco-tour in a very special place.
Information about the Glow Worm Tour
- Must be able to walk unassisted for up to two hours on uneven surfaces
- Requires some fitness as there is a short climb to the cave of 132 steps.
- Warm clothing, rain jacket and robust footwear advisable
- Cameras permitted
- Trips takes 3.5 hours return from the Charleston Base
- Trips depart 9am & 11.30am Summer (October to April) and 10:00 am Winter (May to September)
Experience 2: Hot Tracks Tour
Then, 1 hour down the road near Coal Creek with On Yer Bike Adventures and take a 4WD adventure that’s unlike any you have done before
In an ex military vehicle, designed to go anywhere, ride through assault courses that put it through its paces, climbing up steep muddy tracks that a vehicle shouldn’t go! . You stay dry and warm inside while the Hagglund gets down and dirty through the mud and impossible tracks..
- Fully guided through approximately 8 km of track
- Weather doesn’t hold it back; every kind of weather is fine!