A real highlight of the Waitomo area, this spectacular loop walk takes you through a forested gorge, past natural sculpted cliffs and under low limestone arches.
The track follows the stream and then winds up around a network of limestone bluffs and outcrops before descending down to the Ruakuri Natural Bridge viewing platform.The entrance to the viewing platform is dark, so take care when walking down the steps. The platform extends out over a large cavernous tunnel where you can see large speleothems (stalactites and stalagmites) and a stream running along the bottom.
Glowworms illuminate the banks of the track at night. The best place to see them is at either side of the main bridge.
The grassed area near the Ruakuri Caves carpark contains picnic tables, a grassed area for children to run around, and toilets. There is also a coin gas BBQ on site - $1 for 25 mins of use.
The track is 4 km from Waitomo Village.
Head west from Waitomo Village and turn left at the roundabout into Tumutumu Road. Follow that road for about 2 km and turn right at the signposted access to Ruakuri car park.
Alternatively, walk from the Waitomo Village to Ruakuri on the Waitomo Walkway.
Nature and conservation
The walk is in the Ruakuri Caves and Bush Scenic Reserve which encompasses 114 ha of native bush and limestone formations.
A number of native birds fly through the scenic reserve, around the car park, and around the track. More commonly seen forest birds include kereru (native wood pigeon), tui, piwakawaka (fantail) and tauhou (waxeye). Karearea (New Zealand falcon) are often seen and heard from the car park.
Dolines (enclosed depressions), karren (fluted outcrops), arches tunnels and caves are collectively known as karst. This special landscape is a feature of Waitomo, with the Waitomo Caves world famous for their beauty and abundance of glow worms.
History and culture
Ruakuri means ‘Den of Dogs’ and was named by the chief Tanetinorau who was travelling through the area when one of his party was attacked bywild kurī (Polynesians dogs) defending their den. The area is of much spiritual and cultural significance to Māori.
Know before you go
- Take a torch to help you negotiate the steps and rocky outcrops.
- The toilets are closed at the entrance to the Ruakuri walk.
Source: Department of Conservation