Visitors of the Waitomo Glowworm Caves in Japan
Matteo Colombo—Getty Images

Waitomo Glowworm Caves

Waitomo, New Zealand

The ancient caves in the village of Waitomo were first explored more than a century ago, by a Maori chief and a surveyor. Today, visitors can take a boat tour of the caverns’ lower level. Many of the tour guides are descendants of the chief who discovered the caves. As your boat floats through the grotto, look up at the magical sparkling lights. But look closely—these aren’t just any lights. They’re glowworms! Glowworms are the larvae of a type of gnat called Arachnocampa luminosa. The insect lives in New Zealand and, at this young stage, can grow as large as a matchstick. Its glow comes from its bioluminescent tail. —Karena Phan

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