There are glow worms at Shakespear Park’s waterfall gully. Not a lot, but enough to make it a fun evening adventure. And entry is always free.
If you like stepping off the beaten path, this is your opportunity. I lived within walking distance of this waterfall for nearly 10 years before I found out there were glow worms there.
It’s a short hike from the car park to the Shakespear Park waterfall and one that we do frequently after the rains. Colours deepened to a richer shade, a fresh aroma fills the air, and the usual trickle at Waterfall Gully cascades over the rocks with power and pride.
How to see glow worms at Waterfall Gully in Shakespear Park
Night hikes aren’t that different from going in the daytime, other than the lack of natural light. To make it easier to follow from below, I shot most of the photos during the day. You will follow the same path with a light in hand.
Enter through the pedestrian gate
Your short hike to the waterfall begins at the pedestrian entrance of the predator-proof fence. The foreground below is part of the Waterfall Gully car park. There is plenty of parking here.
The pedestrian entrance has an inner and outer gate that cannot be opened at the same time. This helps to keep out the predators, making it safe for some of New Zealand’s special creatures like the little spotted kiwi birds that live in the park. In the remote possibility that an animal enters with you, shoo it out before opening the inner gate.
Clean your shoes
In an effort to stop the spread of a devastating tree disease that is affecting New Zealand’s Kauri trees, it is requested that all visitors clean the bottoms of their shoes. It’s a simple process: wipe your shoe over the brush and then step on the pad, which will spray the underside of your shoes.
Hiking to the waterfall in Shakespear Park
The hike from the car park to Waterfall Gully takes about five minutes in daylight and a bit longer at night. It is probably the shortest “hike” in the park. In reality, it is just a small segment of the larger Heritage Trail.
Here is what the trail looks like in the daytime, followed by a few views of the park seen from the trail.
Shakespear Park’s Waterfall Gully
The trail will split, with boardwalk-style steps heading up or down. You will go down to see the waterfall. After a rainstorm, it has the best water flow but the smallest area for standing at the base. In summer, after weeks of sunshine, it might only be a trickle.
The first thing you should do when you arrive at the waterfall at night is to look for the water’s edge with your light. If you have children with you, now is the time to remind them that you will be turning off your lights. In the interest of safety, you will want to hold your child’s hand before you turn off the lights, as there is water nearby. Once it’s dark, you will look to either side or the centre of the flowing water. Soon you will see the lights of the glow worms.
What to bring on a night hike to Waterfall Gully
- Comfortable closed walking or hiking shoes.
- A good torch (flashlight) for each person in your group.
- Insect repellent if you are going at dusk.
- Weather-appropriate jacket.
- Water for your walk and a thermos with hot cocoa for when you return.
More on seeing glow worms at waterfall gully
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- Shakespear Park is an Auckland Regional Park located at the end of Whangaparaoa Peninsula, about 50 km outside Auckland’s city centre.
- The best time to see the glow worms is on either a first or third quarter moon. The full moon is too bright, and the park is quite dark on the new moon. Find the moon cycle here.
- If you arrive at dusk, stay quiet at the waterfall, and you may hear kiwi birds.
- Children will see more glow worms than adults. I have done this many times and have seen between 20 and 50 glowing dots. The longer you keep the light off, the more you will see.
- There are often glow worms along the stream on the way to the waterfall gully. You can see them by looking to the left of the first bridge if you turn off your light.
- This is a fun adventure, a way to see a few glow worms. If you are visiting New Zealand and want the real glow worm experience, you will need to go to Waitomo Caves or do the kayak tour we took in Tauranga.
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