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Waitomo Caves

North Island

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Waitomo Caves

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 action.
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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