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The Waiotomo Caves.

The following account of the Governor s I visit fco the Waiotomo Caves was crowded out of our last issue:—On Wednesday the recently discovered Waiotomo caves were visited by his Excellency the Governor and a large pa'rfcy of Europeans and Natives, and a most enjoyable day was spent. One section of the party, includLord and; Lady .-Onslow. and the Misses Whitaker , rode the whole distance of ten miles to the caves on horseback. Others, among whom were Sir F. Whitaker, Hon E. Mitchelson, and Mr J. H. Upton, Mayor of Auckland, travelled by train to Hongitiki, a distance of six miles, then walked a mile and a half and did the final four miles on horseback. This arrangement enabled the latter party to see something of the King Country beyond Otorohanga, and they were repaid for the trouble. The scenery is beautiful, undulating country stretching away as far as the eye can reach, with here and there a peaceful valley, in the centre of which are the raupo whares and maize clearings indicating the existence of a Maori settlement. Occasionally a pretty winding stream varies the view, and renders it more enchanting to the eye. One is struck with the luxuriance of vegetation and the evident richness of the soil. Here is some of the finest land in the colony, and the fact is important that it is now under negotiation, and ere long will be covered with numerous homesteads. The Government hope to put the first settlers on this year, and are endeavoring to acquire an immense area of similar country, the soil of which is splendid. The scene at Waiotomo when the party, which formed quite a cavalcade, arrived there, was a picturesque one. Waiotomo is a valley, or more correctly speaking a saddle between two high ranges of hills, and at the foot of this saddle funs the Waiotomo river. Crossing the saddle the slope beyond was covered by a motley assemblage of Maoris, who chanted a song of welcome when Lord and Lady Onslow appeared. His Excellency shook hands with several of the chiefs, and suitably [ acknowledged their greetings. A start was then made for the caves. The entrance is made by water, a stream some twenty feet wide flowing under ground. The party were conveyed three or four at a time in a canoe through the cavernous j entrance a distance of about fifty yards, and landed in the first chamber. The caves are of limestone formation and are most remarkable in appeaxance, indeed as a sight they surpass the famous Pink and White Terraces of Rotorua. The interior of the cavern by which entrance is gained is weird in the extreme, immense stalactites of an earthen color hanging from the roof and projecting from the sides and giving the chamber a most uncanny appearance, indeed the fact that the caves remained so long undiscovered was due to the dread the Maoris had to the entrance, which they believed was haunted by Taniwha. A stream flows always, through the caves, which are somewhat intricate in their windings, traversing a distance of nearly half a mile. The whole of this is done on foot.

The interior is beautiful beyond description. One of the, largest chambers, which is probably 40ft high, resembles the interior of a Gothic cathedral, with a vaulted ceiling, carved out beautifully, as if it had been done by the chisel of a mason. Immense columns and pillars of limestone deposit rise to the ceiling. Beyond this is the "glow-worm chamber," so-called because the roof is illumined by millions of glow-worms, which glisten like countless gems. Another chamber is called the " Native Lands Court," ffpm' the fact that the stalactites form figures corresponding; in detail with the occupants of a Court of Justice, Ascending by means of ladders, other chambers are reached, and in then; the formations are of every conceivable forn^ and wonderfully beautiful. Some resemble woolle^n fleeces, others are }ike|qh.iselle,d. folds of pure and transparent marble, and others again possess the graceful lines of loveliest statuary. Scarcely two formations are alike. From the roof depend an immense number of stalactites which might be more graphically described as crystal pendants, some being for all the world like bunches of parsnips, and others being fully two feet long, and no thicker than a penqil^ ■<■■>• The i.Org^n gallery " contain^ a good imitation of ah Organ in marble,, while in the next chamber-may be seen a remarkable phenomenon. From the ceiling; hangs; whfs might be. taken for. the folds of awanket, but which is really, a limestone formation. It', is sub-transparent, and if a light is held behind it one can plainly see the green stripes of a blanket just where they wou|d be,. Tjh^r,e is a t fcie.au.tiful imitation &V miniature of the" White Terraces,'the'surface, "of which is covered with glistening white silipate. Another, phenomenon is a foundation of black: terraces amongst the cry^ta^ed foundation. Br,obabls thn jo.yeJli^t spot; of all is the! ". otbfcfcb.;"'which from its appearance might have been hollowed out of pure white marble. Here again the stalactites assume most fantastic shapes and are charming in their lovelinesß. >'

The party finally emerged on the side of the hill fifty feet ahc^ spofc '.^here! they 'entered. vlt w^is 'the' general opinion that the ' Waiotomo caves will long be one of the most popular resorts for tourists and certainly they are now one of the most attractive!

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Permanent link to this item

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/AG18900407.2.6

Bibliographic details

The Waiotomo Caves., Ashburton Guardian, Volume xii, Issue 2394, 7 April 1890

Word Count
905

The Waiotomo Caves. Ashburton Guardian, Volume xii, Issue 2394, 7 April 1890

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