New Zealand facts & history in brief
New Zealand Map
with their 'glow-worms' are
in the limestone hills near Te Kuiti
and Otorohanga in the 'King Country'
and are major tourist attractions.
Underground streams made the limestone
caves with their limestone pillars,
stalactites, and stalagmites
over many thousands of years.
Water sipping through the limestone
makes the stalactites and depositing
the dissolved limestone as its drips
down and stalagmites are building
up from the floor of the cave by
the same dripping and depositing
Visitors can explore the
caves on foot or in boats.
The Maori people knew and used
some of these caves.
Frederick Mace, believed to
be the first European to
explore the caves in 1887 with
Tana Tinorau, a local Maori
farmer, who owned the land
the caves are in.
The 'glow-worm grotto', with
its infinite number of tiny
lights dangling from the
ceiling is very popular with tourist.
The Glow-worms (Arachnocampa luminosa),
can be found throughout New Zealand,
in rain forest, under fern fronds,
old mining tunnels and in any
damp and dark fissures.
The Glow-worm is a fly, unlike
the European glow-worm which
is a beetle and the larval,
pupal and adult stages are
all luminous in New Zealand.
Their life-cycle takes just
over 12 months, the larval
stage lasting the longest,
about nine months.
Some of the larvae can grow
to about 40 mm in length in
caves, the ones in the bush
are much smaller.
The adult fly is about
15 mm in length.
They shine the brightest
in the Waitomo Caves.
You can click on these photos for an enlargement.
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