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Footwhistle Glowworm Cave celebrates 100 years guiding

Waitomo-based Footwhistle Glowworm Cave celebrates 100 years guiding.

It is a momentous occasion for the team at the Footwhistle Glowworm Cave Tour in Waitomo as they celebrate a combined 100 years of Guiding. The small Family team of Four Guides have over 100 years of guiding experience between them.

“This is quite an achievement considering we only opened this cave tour in 2010,” says Kyle Barnes, owner-operator of the Footwhistle Glowworm Caves.

“Footwhistle Glowworm Cave is one of the largest systems in the Waitomo area and thanks to conservation measures and careful native planting over the past 20 years our system now supports some of the best Glowworm displays too,” he says. The absolutely stunning cave system is made up from stalactites, stalagmites and other cave formations growing from water dripping from the ceiling or flowing over the walls and leaving behind limestone deposits.

Upon arrival at the spectacular Footwhistle Glowworm Cave it is likely that you will be warmly greeted by Kyle, his father, Ross, or one of his two brother-in-law’s, Richmond or Robin Henry.

“Five minutes into any tour and it’s clear that we are here because we love what they do and that we love working in a family business,” adds Kyle. “Good old fashioned hospitality is a prime example of why the private Footwhistle Glowworm Cave tour is becoming so popular.”

On the front desk you will find either Kyle‘s partner, Trieste Henry, or her sister, Marlene, affectionately known to all as Mama.

“This is where our visitor experience starts. These two are as important as any of the guides to our customer’s experiences. There’s not many receptionists these days that can get tips from tourists, Mama’s just so friendly and helpful often helping customers not even doing our product” says Kyle.

All of the guides have been Cave guides for more than 20 years and it’s the love of the job, which keeps them there year after year. “Having guided in the area for so long these guides have seen it all, the changing demographics, the rise and fall of the Korean market and now the growing Chinese market and rebounding Japanese market,” adds Kyle.

“There’s one thing they all have in common is that is that they appreciate a quality experience. “We have all guided at Waitomo’s main Glowworm Cave, but we love operating in a small company where we can focus on providing customers a memorable experience,” said Kyle.

The Henry siblings’ stepfather, Jo Davis, developed and opened up parts of this cave system back in 1992 and Richmond and Kyle both started as guides on the 1st Blackwater Rafting tours.

Cave World employees the four Henry siblings, Kyle’s father, Ross and Kyle, make it a real family affair. “What’s more important than being in a family business is that our customers feel like they have experienced something really authentic and for a small time have been part of our family,” says Kyle.


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