A Holistic Approach to Water in a World of Wonder

A Holistic Approach to Water in a World of Wonder

A Holistic Approach to Water in a World of Wonder

Discover Waitomo

Discover Waitomo is working together with local agencies, landowners and the community to protect the natural wonder of the Waitomo Glowworm Caves.

Visitors have been guided around the caves for 128 years, and around 500,000 people now visit each year. However increasing tourism numbers have put pressure on the environment in and around the caves, which has also been affected by local farming activities. Actively maintaining the health of the surrounding water catchment is vital for protecting the cave’s ecosystems.

Soil erosion in particular increases the sediment in the stream flowing into the cave, and can smother aquatic insects – compromising the glowworms’ food source and putting them at risk.

Discover Waitomo’s strategy aims to:

  • increase fencing to exclude stock from streams
  • increase planting along waterways in the catchment to mitigate erosion
  • encourage the retirement of land along waterways to reduce erosion and sediment
  • educate and inform stakeholders in sustainable land use practices.

Discover Waitomo has successfully developed strong relationships with government agencies and private land owners and has stepped forward to educate the community on how to improve water quality.

The team has also commissioned research to improve understanding and to develop tools to measure and monitor stream health.

The collaboration has led to improved ecological conditions around the Waitomo Stream, Okahua Stream and Mangapu Stream. Monitoring has shown that conditions have become healthier for the aquatic invertebrates within the cave streams and, with more abundant and diverse prey, glowworm numbers have increased.

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