New Zealand's Glowworm Caves Are Magical. Here's What You Need To Know

Nestled deep in the heart of New Zealand sits Waitomo Cave, a stunning cavern situated 150 feet underground (via Culture Trip). Between its limestone walls, Waitomo, also known as Glow Worm Cave, harbors 30 million years of secrets.

The glistening Waipa River runs through the cave, and visitors are encouraged to journey through aboard boats that drift beneath its ceilings that resemble starry skies. Adventure seekers can even tour by way of black water rafting, an extreme sport take on classic caving that is currently only available in New Zealand and Belize (via How Stuff Works). Many of the caverns here are named after their ornate features, like the Bride's Jewels, which is decked out in dazzling stalactites, stalagmites, and "luminescent creatures," as described by KBZK.

Spelunking through this breathtaking wonder is a unique experience. This cave is one of just a few in the world that produces "living light." The glow overhead is not a man-made system. Rather, it is the work of thousands of tiny creatures.

Waitomo Cave is lit up by thousands of glow worms

New Zealand's Waitomo Cave is one of only a handful of natural attractions that exhibits bioluminescence, or the phenomenon of a creature creating its own light (via National Ocean Service). In this case, the cavern is aglow as the result of thousands of bioluminescent organisms. You might know them as glow worms.

Thanks to the busywork of glowworms craftily creating webs, the ceiling overlooking Waitomo Cave resembles a brilliant sea of stars. Interestingly enough, "glow worms" aren't really worms but beetles (via Natural History Museum). Their light comes from a chemical reaction when a molecule called luciferin meets oxygen.

If this elaborate display of lights comes across as hypnotic or even a little bit eerie, perhaps it should. One of the main purposes of emitting this stream of bioluminescence is to hunt for prey. So, if you find yourself entranced when gazing up at the Waitomo Cave, remember, that's the point. The light show is intentionally alluring.