Where to Find Bioluminescence in New Zealand
Bioluminescence is a natural phenomenon that only occurs in a small number of places across the world. It is the name given to when organisms have the ability to produce their own light, which in turn creates some of nature’s most magical displays.
New Zealand is lucky to be home to two forms of bioluminescence. Just a couple of hours’ drive south from Auckland is the quiet settlement of Waitomo, made famous by its extensive underground network of glowworm caves. The tiny glowworms are like a blanket of fairy lights across the caves, which visitors can explore in a variety of ways – on foot, by boat, abseiling or even (our favourite) black water tubing. If you are on a budget, there are some local walks that will take you past glowworms at night for free – just don’t forget a torch.
The glowworm species, arachnocampa luminosa, is exclusive to New Zealand and is actually found in places all over the country… you just need to know where to look. In the South Island, the Te Anau glowworm caves put on a glittering display - a great stop for tourists making their way to Milford Sound. The 12,000 year old caves are accessible by boat, with cruises both in the day and at night.
The second form of bioluminescence is what is found here in the Bay of Islands – the beautiful phosphorescence that comes alive in the ocean under the night skies. This is caused by plankton emitting radiation absorbed during the day, creating an amazing glow through the water.
When staying overnight in the Bay of Islands on board The Rock, you have the opportunity to go night kayaking and hopefully see the phosphorescence up close (conditions permitting). Dip your paddle into the water and watch the plankton light up around you – an unforgettable travelling experience!
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