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Te Anau Glowworm Caves Tour and Scenic Cruise

Te Anau Glowworm Caves Tour and Scenic Cruise

Te Anau is the gateway to Fiordland National Park (Milford Sound) and is one of New Zealand’s most popular tourist towns. It’s situated on the shores of Lake Te Anau, and across the lake sits a series of caves. Those caves are home to some unique creatures — glowworms!

Note: We paid our own way on this tour

A scenic cruise across Lake Te Anau

The Te Anau glowworm caves tour starts at the waterfront area, in the heart of town. The first part of the tour is a scenic cruise across Lake Te Anau. You can sit on the open-air top deck and relax, accompanied by some awesome scenery.

After a little while the captain will take a little detour down one of the arms of the lake (our Captain did at least). There you’ll see several small islands — definitely the best part of the cruise!

The Glowworms

Once you get to the other side of the lake it’s a short walk to cave. You’ll get a guide, be told you can’t take any photos and away you go. The first part involves a boardwalk above a crystal-clear river, and soon you’ll see an impressive waterfall. It was frustrating not to be able to take photos in this section of the Te Anau glowworm caves tour, because the whole reason for the no photo rule is that it disturbs the glowworms, but there aren’t any glow worms in those sections!

From there it’s up to some areas with glowworms, and then you’ll hop on a small boat and drift through a cavern filled with them. It was a cool experience and we got almost close enough to touch them.

We’ve been to Waitomo as well (the other big glow worm tour in New Zealand) and it’s hard to compare the two. There are more glowworms at Waitomo, but I reckon the cave itself, with the waterfall and all, was more interesting than Waitomo. Throw in the lake cruise and you have two quite different experiences.

A sunset cruise

We booked on the last tour of the day and it was starting to get dark on the way back. We were treated to a stunning sunset that night — the perfect way to end a tour like this.

The Details

  • The Te Anau glowworms tour will set you back around $100, but you if you organise other tours will Real Journeys you’ll get a discount. Check out their website.
  • There are several tours a day departing Te Anau. As there isn’t much to do in these parts at night, it makes sense to do the tour then — and you might get a good sunset!
  • The walk through the caves is easy and should be fine for almost all levels of fitness.
  • You can’t take photos! Very annoying for a travel blogger, but you might not mind.

Are you planning a trip to New Zealand? Check out our South Island Travel Guide!

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Jon Algie

I'm a South Island local -- born in Timaru and raised in Dunedin. I left the island in 2006 and returned 10 years later. Having seen a good chunk of the world I realised how special this place is -- the most beautiful island in the world! Seven years (and almost 400 posts) later I'm still helping locals and tourists alike plan their trips around the South Island.