Discovered several hundred years ago by a Māori hunting party, Ruakuri takes its name from the pack of wild dogs that used to inhabit the cave entrance—rua means "den" or "pit," and kuri means "dog." The cave's original entrance, an urupa (burial site) for Māori, has been closed. Visitors now enter through a dramatic, man-made spiral "drum passage," then proceed through narrow passages (breathe in!). Surrounded by magical limestone formations,
you hear the roar of hidden waterfalls, pass beneath ancient rock falls, and follow a dark, underground river that twinkles with glowworm reflections. The two-hour tours (reservations suggested) are limited to 15 people. This is the longest cave-walking tour at Waitomo, but it's easily managed by people of reasonable fitness. All pathways are wheelchair accessible. Tours meet at the Waitomo Glowworm Cave Visitor Centre or Long Black Cafe.