Te Anau Glow worm caves – Worth doing?

Weeell what can I say? Glow worms was something I was pretty keen to see but was slightly unimpressed. The tour cost $83 pp through Real journeys, and we opted to do the 9am tour. It seems RealJourneys is the only company that run the Glow Worm tours here but if I had to think about it twice, I’d check out other glow worm caves that can be seen on your own for free around the island. Apparently, there is a handful!

We departed from the Real Journeys info centre, just at the heart of Te Anau’s centre (pretty small town btw), at about 8.55am. After 20-25min cruising on supposedly South Island’s 2nd largest lake, we arrived at the wharf just a short walk from the cave entrance. There were probably about 60 people and we got a little misdirected deciding to be at the back of the pack. They split us into groups to take us through some briefings about the worms and the cave – I won’t spoil all that here though!


It wasn’t all that boring because very soon after we headed straight into the caves. I thought the structure was pretty cool! I’ve been to a few caves in my life, and it’s not as astounding in terms of grandiose and height. But it was the first time I hopped on a boat inside a cave so that was cool. There isn’t as many glow worms as the flyer you’ll come to see so expectations must be lowered for you to enjoy this journey haha. No photography or electronic devices too of course!

We had a very knowledgeable and clearly-spoken guide take us through the caves. It’s only when the group was on the boat that lights were completely out, allowing you to see every glowing butt of the worms. It kind of felt like I was in a theme-park ride, one of those water log ones where it goes into darkness and bumps into things. Except there isn’t any crazy suspense of being shot out onto a steep rollercoaster.

Even if photography was allowed, I don’t think I could’ve caught much on camera. It was like looking at stars, just in little clusters. One cool fact I found out was that they all glow the same colour – green. However we initially see the worms to be glowing blue since it’s a shorter wavelength our eyes can adjust to quicker. Slowly though, we start to see green as well. If we see any other color, then we might have to get our eyes checked!

So was it worth doing? 

For me personally – not so much. For the price you pay and the experience, I felt my money would be better off spent on a more thrilling activity. $83 was it a bit much, but if you could find a deal for half the price go for it! It’s one of the key activities to do while you’re in Te Anau anyway 🙂


  • Were comfortable, closed, sturdy shoes. It’s not rocky grounds but it can be slippery
  • Take a jacket/jumper as it can get quite cold
  • Earlier tour times are always better with less people however we were south island activities told that the worms are a nocturnal animal so there’d be more during a night time tour

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