Cave World - Waitomo's exciting new tourism venture

A boutique Waitomo business has its sights set on the lucrative Asian tourism market with a new tea venture.

Footwhistle Glowworm Cave Tour. Photo: Cave World
Waitomo-based Cave World recently had its Kawakawa tea hut opened by New Zealand Prime Minister John Key.
 
The unique venture is the culmination of a lot of hard work by Waitomo-based entrepreneur Kyle Barnes and his partner, Trieste Henry, as well as their extended family that operate the Footwhistle Glowworm cave tours.
 
Having something unique for all visitors on the Footwhistle cave tour who are now able to stop off for a special cup of Kawakawa tea in the Punga Hut nestled in forest surrounds.
 
Kawakawa was traditionally used by Māori to treat a range of conditions and as a health tonic for general wellbeing. The Kawakawa leaves are harvested twice a year from plants on the property where about 24 hectares were planted and vested back to the QEII Trust 20 years ago.
 
 “We needed a point of difference for the market to understand that we are different and that we are a boutique operation catering for a special small group experience,” said owner-operator Kyle Barnes.
 
“It was a special occasion to launch our new product and to have the Prime Minister come and unveil a plaque outside the tea house commemorating the opening. It was also especially nice that he planted a Kawakawa tree.

"In the near future we will also be packaging our kawakawa tea for sale as souvenirs.“
 
Footwhistle is a highly experienced family-owned and operated boutique tourism business dedicated to giving its customers the best caving and Glowworm experiences, with a clear focus on old fashioned hospitality.
 
Kyle Barnes was a guide on the first commercial tour through this cave in 1992. He has more than 20 years guiding and customer service experience.  Meanwhile, Kyle’s father, Ross Barnes, who is also a guide at Cave World started guiding at the Glowworm Caves in the early 1970’s.
 
The two other guides that guide this tour are Kyle’s brother in-laws Robin And Richmond Henry, who both have been guiding for over 20 years and love what they do.
 
The Footwhistle Cave is one of the largest in the area and supports some of the best Glowworm displays. Every tour feels like an intimate trip where visitors can discover this cave as it was for the first time.
 
The 1 hour 15 minute Footwhistle Tour with complimentary Kawakawa tea tasting, departs daily throughout the year and has a guide to client ratio of 13-1, which provides every customer with a personal touch. The ability to take photos in this Cave is another reason why Cave World is very different and a cut above the rest.
 
With a strong focus on quality product, family culture and great personal service, Footwhistle Cave in Waitomo is ideal for those seeking a boutique and authentic experience.