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Stories from our backyard: Glow worm kayak tour

Oct 15, 2021 | New Zealand, North Island

Glow worm kayak tour

McLaren Falls Bay of Plenty

There’s something special about fairy lights. Maybe it’s to do with the enchanting atmosphere, but in the natural world you can expect that and more with New Zealand’s answer, the Glow worms. They are unique to New Zealand and offer an alluring blue glow and a sea of starry lights. You will find them in abundance in caves, rainforests and basically any other sheltered damp area. These Glow worms have a luminescent glow called bioluminescence or glowing light which is designed to attract their prey. Seeing Glow worms is a fantastic experience, and a Glow worm kayak tour is a must-do for everyone that explores New Zealand. Waimarino Kayak Tours is a leading tour operator that showcases an evening visiting the enchanting Glow worms as well as exploring some of the best waterways in the Bay of Plenty on the North Island. It’s a unique experience combining the stunning Glow worm night sky imitation as well as a picturesque moonlight paddle!

The Bay of Plenty is on Rotorua’s doorstep, located less than an hour away, or only a 2.45 hour drive south of Auckland. It’s where New Zealand’s orchard industry meets the coast. You will find plenty of local wines, fresh seafood, and orchards and farms. With over 250 kilometres of coastline, there’s also no shortage of marine activities to take part in and stunning beaches to explore. The main seaside towns are Tauranga and Mount Maunganui. The region offers plenty of foodie experiences with tours of a working kiwifruit orchard, discover the world of the honeybee and its distinctive manuka honey, or for something different catch a Brew bus to sample New Zealand’s finest craft beers. Then its time to discover the Māori culture at Mataatua Marae or learn how to prepare an authentic earth-cooked Māori hāngī. Finally, of course you cannot forget the natural attractions of the wildlife sanctuary on Moutohora Island, a marine wildlife cruise or day/evening kayak tours on the local lakes & waterways. It’s all about gaining a deeper understanding of the region and meeting the locals behind the scenes.

Mataatua Experience

Experience a local connection with people & place…

Waimarino Kayak Tours tick all the right boxes for an amazing Glow worm kayak tour experience. Based in both Tauranga and Rotorua, Waimarino Kayak Tours showcases some of the best waterways in the Bay of Plenty. These include Lake McLaren, Lake Rotoiti, and The Wairoa River. These locations boast a large range of native birds and stunning native bush.  Their tours are one of the highlights of the region as evidenced by all the great reviews the company has gathered since inception in 1975. Their signature trip is the evening Glow worm kayak tour. The 3-hour tour begins with delicious local refreshments while watching the sun set over the rolling hills and is then followed by a twilight kayak on calm waters to discover the magic of the enchanting glow worm canyon. Expect thousands of glow worms, a small group, and professional and knowledgeable guides who provide a fantastic and informative brief of not only the glow worms, but the local region and Māori stories to go with it. This tour is designed for 8+ years & all kayak abilities, or if you have younger ones then the big Kanu Glow worm kayak tour is a good alternative. It is a magical experience not to be missed!

Glow worm kayak tour

A unique outdoors experience that supports the local community…

Waimarino Kayak Tours is more than an adventure tour provider…they are passionate about kayaking and their unique environment, but most importantly – they give back. The Waimarino Education Trust is a charity founded by the company whose main focus is teaching essential life skills around the water. Established in 2011, the charity offers a variety of programmes for children from primary through to teenage years which focus on understanding the environment and the rivers, river safety and boating as well as of course, kayaking. The programmes aim to provide a safe and stimulating range of recreational activities and experiences for children from all demographic and cultural backgrounds. It is a vibrant, dynamic, and fun environment where children will learn essential life-skills around the water, all while having a blast in the best aquatic-based playground in the Bay of Plenty.

Glow worm kayak tour

Waimarino Kayak Tours are proud of their support in the local community. As a result of their programmes, they have not only recruited many employees with a love for the environment and kayaking but, have also been honoured to have been the birthplace of the kayaking careers for five of New Zealand’s Olympians! So, with the combination of the magical Glow worm Kayak Tours, stunning surrounds, and their educational programmes, it is no wonder Waimarino Kayak Tours are a perfect choice. Make sure to include a kayak tour with Waimarino Kayak Tours on your next visit…. I know it will be the highlight of your Kiwi adventure!

Salisbury Wharf Mount Maunganui. Photo: Quinn O’Connell


The summer season (December-March) is the warmest time to visit. The daytime temperatures range between 22-23 degrees Celsius and the nights are on average 14 degrees. Perfect weather for all activities.

Good to know:

Located just over 2.5 hours drive from Auckland, the Bay of Plenty is home to loads of kiwifruit and avocado orchards, the region boasts some of the best beaches in New Zealand and has a proud Māori heritage. The white sand beaches sit alongside ancient mountains and forests. Explore the locals’ favourite shopping and eating spots at Mount Maunganui. Or meet the local marine life in sparkling bays by day and discover glow worms after dark by kayak. You could do a day trip from Rotorua or stay a few nights to soak up the coastal town vibe. Apart from your night kayak with Waimarino, other top highlights include experiencing the wildlife sanctuary and relaxing in your own personal hot water spa on Moutohora Island, explore the fully carved Māori ancestral house of the Ngāti Awa people, wear the kids out on an aerial obstacle course at Adrenalin Forest or have a blast with the myriad of activities at the Adventure Park, hike the Mount Maunganui summit track for spectacular sunset views and don’t forget to take a marine wildlife cruise or swim with wild dolphins in the bay.

Mount Maunganui sunrise. Photo Credit: Katie Cox

And finally:

AET Travel (formerly Australia Expat Travel) specialises in exceptional holidays to Australia and New Zealand. We make it simple with our local knowledge, seamless logistics and trusted advice since 2004. Expect a bespoke itinerary curated with the big picture and the small details. Contact us


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