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A LOVELY SPOT., Issue 8017, 20 September 1889
A LOVELY SPOT.
The month of the cavern called the Waitomo Caves, in the King Country, eleven milei from Otorohanga, has been known to the Maoris for generations, and a stream which runa into it has been a noted place for eel-fishing. So far as is known, they never ventured to enter, believing the place to be the abode of tatmchaa and other fabulous monsters. A European settler, Mr F. Mace, however, one day constructed a slender raft of dry logs, and entered the forbidding darkneßS in eompany with a Maori named TaneTinorau, who, after long persuasion, was induced to share in the voyage of discovery. They soon found themselves in a marvellous domain of beauty. We have no space to attempt anything like a detailed description of the eaves. They are not only very lovely, but on a most imposing scale. The entrance is 30ft wide and 20ft high, and is beautifully arched. The visitor is taken in a canoe, and landed in the dark on a silt-formed beach 90ft from the entrance. By the aid of candles he finds himself among ponderous stalaotites, 3ft to 6ft thick, reaching from the roof, 20ft h»gh, to within a foot of the ground. These are known as "The Monsters." One is fully 10ft in diameter at its base. The traveller next follows the bauk of the stream for UOft on foot, and then crosses it by a f«otbrWg'e, To nM in the weirdae'sa of the
scene the roof of the cavern is seen to be studded with thousands of glow-worms, " giving i the dark vault,." we are told; !.' the appearance of a starlit sky." From the entrance to the bridge the cavern averages 50ft broad and 20ft to 30ft high. Crossing the bridge a sharp turn to the right is made up a slight incline for a distanoe of 70ft to the foot of a 10ft ladder, which leads to a narrow passage, the entrance to the Grand Cavern. Here most beautiful and interesting stalactites and stalagmites are met with. The length of the oavern is 250 ft, and it varies from 20ft to 50ft in height. Climbing up a 20ft ladder from the ground cavern the Organ Gallery is reached, its entrance guarded by several magnificent white encrusted pillars supporting the roof. Eighty feet in from the entrance stands the "Organ." This is described by the Chief Surveyor of Auckland as " a grand stalagmitic mass, tier upon tier of marble-like appearance, somewhat resembling the front of an organ. It is surrounded by stalaotites of equal brightness and of all lengths up to 4ft, somo as thin as a reed, with glistening drops of liquid hanging from the extremities." Just behind is a small white terrace formation, and 40ft further, at the termination of the gallery, is a larger one, completely blocking it from floor to roof. But we must stop. There is no space left to tell of the wonders of the Well, the Fairy Grotto (which even surpasses the Organ in loveliness), the Banquet Chamber, the White Terrace, the Blaok Terrace, or Mair's Cave. There is an extraordinary drapery-like stalactite, " The Blanket," so strikingly like one, says Mr Humphreys, as to deceive the beholder at 20ft distant. It hangs in most perfect folds, which are so thin as to be transparent. One word in conclusion as to the color of the incrustations. Before reached the Grand Cavern it seems the appearances "vary from a dull brown color to a light yellow, but on rising 30ft to the higher galleries there are alabaster and Parian marble-liko scenes of unsurpassed loveliness, unsullied by the turbid inundations which have occurred in the caverns below." It is maddening to learn that already the obscene pencil of the scribbling maniac, who seems to haunt all soenes of natural loveliness for the purpose of defiling them, has been at work. The Government ought to take the oaves at once under ihetr charge, and protect them with a most jealoas oare from injury or disfigurement.
A LOVELY SPOT., Issue 8017, 20 September 1889
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