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Lake McLaren Glow Worm Tour One for the Whole Family

There's more to Tauranga than the well-known busy beaches - head inland and experience an equally stunning kind of nature. Lake McLaren is one of the Bay’s most loved natural attractions. Ten minutes’ drive out of Tauranga, the 190 hectare park boasts endless bush walks, breath-taking waterfalls, access for fishing and kayaking, and the best surprise of all, glow worms.

Lake McLaren and the park were originally formed as part of the Wairoa River catchment hydro- electricity system in 1925. But it wasn't until 40 years later in 1965 when, with great foresight, the area was developed into a substantial park by adding some extra land to the Council's existing water reserves.

Since then, many thousands of trees covering over 500 species and varieties, exotic and indigenous have been planted at Lake McLaren and today the park is home to one of the best arboretums in the North Island.

One of the highlights of the park is the Lake McLaren Glow Worm Tour, Tauranga's only glow worm kayak tour. It's perfect for the whole family - from your young adventure seekers to those who'll appreciate the wine and cheese prior to an easy evening paddle.

As you make your way slowly across the tree-fringed lake, you'll enter a narrow gorge. Be prepared for mind-blowing beauty. Millions of tiny sparkling lights, a mini galaxy, cover the gorge walls, mimicking the Southern Cross and the Milky Way in the night sky. 

This is a truly special NZ experience so have a look at the Glow Worm Kayak Tour offered by the experienced team at Waimarino Kayak Tours and don't hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions. 

Half Day Kayak Tours a Great Choice for Cruise Ship Passengers

Active Tauranga cruise ship travellers need look no further to add a little adventure into their cruise itinerary. You'll still want time to sip champagne and watch the sunset from the deck chair but more and more cruise ship passengers are equally enthusiastic about seeing NZ away from the crowds and having a unique experience to take home. 

That's why Waimarino Kayak tours have designed half day kayak tour packages specifically to help cruise ship passengers get the most out of their brief stay upon arriving at the Port of Tauranga. We offer a thrilling way to explore the real Bay of Plenty, kayaking on beautiful New Zealand lakes and rivers. And because most of our kayak tours are less than 4 hours long, they're a great option when you've got limited time. 

Waimarino Kayak Tours run organised cruise ship kayak tours in Tauranga and Rotorua so you can enjoy a picturesque paddle on the tranquil Wairoa River with a personal guide and gourmet refreshments or a scenic kayak on stunning Lake McLaren. You could also visit the exciting Waimarino Adventure Park or for those with a little more time to spend, see thermal hot pools and a glow worm cave at Lake Rotoiti. 

Whatever Tauranga cruise ship tour you choose, you can relax and focus on the experience, knowing your kayaking package includes transport to and from the ship. We'll get you back on board in plenty of time - with a smile from the day on your face and carrying a little piece of Tauranga in your heart. 

Have a look at the range of half day Tauranga shore excursions offered by the experienced team at Waimarino Kayak Tours. They're a unique NZ experience and a wonderful way to explore Tauranga's beautiful outdoors. 

Kayak Tour a Quintessential Tourist Activity in NZ

It's no wonder New Zealand is known as one of the outdoor adventure hot spots of the world. We are home to a bucket list of incredible landscapes, adrenalin-filled activities, friendly people, and an easy climate. 

Few countries offer the opportunity to pack more adventurous experiences into your day and kayaking is one of the most popular. Crystal clear waters, stunning natural surroundings and reliable weather make for some thrilling and unforgettable kayaking tours. 

Rotorua is the North Island's no. 1 tourist destination. This well-known centre for dramatic geothermal phenomena and Maori cultural experiences also offers breath-taking wilderness, including a collection of serene jewel-like lakes. And to see the lakes at their most scenic, you need a kayak. Imagine gliding across the quiet, bush fringed waters to explore dramatic cliffs, hidden beaches and natural hot pools.

Without a doubt, visitors to this region should consider putting a kayak tour at the top of their list of things to do. Whatever your age, fitness, skill level or personal interest, there's a tour to suit and you'll find both freedom and guided kayak tours are available. It's the perfect way to escape the hustle and bustle and connect with the real New Zealand. 

Lake Rotoiti is the third largest of Rotorua's lakes. The lake edge is indented with little bays and beaches that are a delight to explore and make all the paddling well worthwhile. Take a guided kayak tour and you’ll also learn about the abundant birds and plant life of the area and hear Maori stories about the lake. 

Your guide will lead you into a lakeside cave, hidden behind a magical wall of green foliage. Once inside you'll find the darkness twinkling back at you like a galaxy of thousands of tiny magical lights - glow worms! Take in the beauty for a while before picking up the paddles and heading on to the other main attraction of Lake Rotoiti - the Manupirua hot pools. 

Only accessible by water, the hot pools perch right on the edge of the lake and cover a range of temperatures. Just sit back, relax and enjoy the birdsong - it really is a unique and unmissable NZ adventure. 

Have a look at the range of tours offered by the experienced team at Waimarino Kayak Tours and don't hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions. 


An Inside Look at the Glow Worm

Who would have thought that a creature called a fungus gnat could be such a popular attraction? Fungus gnats are a special kind of fly and there's a species in New Zealand that produces the amazing glow worm. And our Glow Worm Kayaking tours at Lake McLaren are the perfect way to see their stunning light show! 

There are many different types of glow worm. The one we have in New Zealand is the arachnocampa luminosa. It uses its glow to attract food and to burn off its waste. 

The glow worm lives for about 11 months in a cycle that involves four different stages. The adult lays eggs in clutches of 30-40 within their subterranean home. When the young gnat larvae hatch and crawl away they are less than 3 millimetres long, but already emit a strong visible light. They slowly grow over 9 months to the shape and size of a matchstick, building a tube-like nest and putting down sticky 'fishing lines' to trap insects to feed on. 

Snuggled up in their silky tubes, the hungry glow worms emit that ethereal blue-green glow in order to lure prey onto the lines. Trapped on the sticky mucus threads, the unwitting insects are then reeled in for supper. 

The tail light shines from an organ similar to the human kidney. The airbag surrounding the tail provides it with oxygen which reacts with the chemicals given off by the glow worm. They are able control the reaction by reducing the level of oxygen to the light organ. 

The glow worm then turns into a pupa in a cocoon suspended from the ceiling and emerges as a two winged flying insect, which looks like a large mosquito. The adult fly lives no longer than a few days - its sole purpose is to reproduce and lay eggs - and the cycle continues. 

Glow worms need damp dark sheltered places like caves, tunnels or moist banks and canyons where they can safely hang their sticky feeding lines. That's why they do so well at Lake McLaren, transforming their dark surroundings with pinpoints of starry glow worm light. 


Seeing the constellations form on the canyon walls while you glide silently through on a kayak is truly an awesome experience. And it becomes easy to appreciate the beautiful Māori word for glow worm – ‘titiwai’, referring to ‘lights reflected in water’. 

Glow Worm Tour - One Unique New Zealand Experience You Can't Miss

When the sun goes down, there's one unique New Zealand experience you can't miss. Take an evening kayaking trip on the picturesque Lake McLaren with only the moon and the stars to light your way. Enjoy refreshments from award winning local producers, beautiful scenery, fantastic birdlife and magical glow worms.

Based in Tauranga, Waimarino's Glow Worm Kayaking tour will take you into another mesmerising enchanting world. Set in McLaren Falls Park, a stunning reserve of native bush, birds and grand old trees, the tour begins with wine, fruit and cheese on the lakeside. As the sun goes down beyond the hills, friendly professional kayak guides will kit you out in lifejackets, splash skirts and head torches before ensuring everyone qualifies in Paddling 101.

Push your kayak gently across the glassy water into the dusk. Gliding dreamlike in the darkness, you'll be lead into a narrow steep-sided gorge where you'll discover the mysterious world of the glow worm canyon. The walls are lit up like the most magical fairy lights on a Christmas tree. Clusters of glow worms cling to the steep rock, each one a bright star. Floating silent in the dark, the only sight comes from these billion points of living light. 

Your skilled kayak tour guides provide a fascinating talk about the peculiarities of New Zealand glow worms and the geography and history of the area, as well as ensuring everyone stays safe and comfortable.

Testimonials from previous visitors agree, this popular glow worm kayak tour at Lake McLaren is a glorious experience that simply must not be missed. All you need to do is wear comfortable light warm clothing, and be prepared for an unforgettable evening.