This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

New Zealand‘s Waitomo Caves are a little different than your average cavern. Formed by limestone with a maze of underground rivers and sinkholes, the caves are filled with thousands of glowworms that dangle from the ceiling and sides. They radiate a warm glow that illuminates the the whole cave.

 

This particular glowworm species can’t be spotted just anywhere — the Arachnocampa luminosa only exists in New Zealand.

A guided visit to the cave starts with a stop at the Visitor’s Center, followed by a walk through the Catacombs and the Tomo — a 50-foot shaft of limestone — and then down to the Banquet Chamber, where you may be able to see a towering limestone formation called the Pipe Organ (this is sometimes closed to the public because of carbon monoxide buildup). You’ll end up at the Cathedral, a platform known for its acoustics  — performers have actually held concerts here! Finally, you’ll get to see the glowworm grotto by cruising in a boat along the subterranean Waitomo River. The only source of light here is the radiant light produced by the glowworms.

Millions of glow worms in cathedral room at the end of Waipu Cave in New Zealand. (Photo by MarcelStrelow/Getty Images)
Millions of glow worms in cathedral room at the end of Waipu Cave in New Zealand. (Photo by MarcelStrelow/Getty Images)

Today, the caves are partially owned by the the local Māori tribes who participate in their upkeep, management and development.

Getting There

The Waitomo Caves are located 125 miles away from New Zealand’s largest city, Auckland. You can hire transport or rent a car to get to the caves from the city.

From the United States, you can fly nonstop to Auckland (AKL) with Air New Zealand (voted the world’s top airline in 2017) from San Francisco (SFO), Houston (IAH), Los Angeles (LAX) and Honolulu (HNL). Hawaiian Airlines also flies nonstop from Honolulu.

Although United wasn’t voted the world’s top airline, if you can manage to find Saver award availability, you could potentially get to Auckland and back for just 80,000 United MileagePlus miles in economy.

Featured photo by MarcelStrelow/Getty Images

The Platinum Card® from American Express

The American Express Platinum card has some of the best perks out there: cardholders enjoy the best domestic lounge access (Delta SkyClubs, Centurion Lounges, and Priority Pass), up to a $200 annual airline fee credit as well as up to $200 in Uber credits, and mid-tier elite status at SPG, Marriott, and Hilton. Combined with the 60,000 point welcome offer -- worth $1,140 based on TPG's valuations -- this card is a no-brainer for frequent travelers. Here are 5 reasons you should consider this card, as well as how you can figure out if the $550 annual fee makes sense for you.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
  • Enjoy Uber VIP status and free rides in the U.S. up to $15 each month, plus a bonus $20 in December. That can be up to $200 in annual Uber savings.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
  • 5X Membership Rewards points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com.
  • Enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
  • Receive complimentary benefits with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts. Learn More.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
  • Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. Enrollment required.
  • $550 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
N/A
Annual Fee
$550
Balance Transfer Fee
See Terms
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.