Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Gold Mine, Glowworms & Wetas!

This will be my last post for 10 days or so as we'll be moving up to Port Jackson later today where there is will be no internet connection. After Port Jackson we are coming back down to Colville & then crossing over to the east side of the peninsula to the DOC camp at Waikawau Bay, another area where there will be no internet.

We stayed an extra day here at White Star Station so we could go exploring out the back of the farm. The station is named after the White Star Goldmine that's located high up in the hills and having a 4WD ute was of great benefit to us. The mine has glowworms inside it & we hoped they'd still be there, they need dampness as it's been so dry they may have moved on. There are maps for visitors to follow & they said the walk to the mine would take about an hour. More like three hours I would think, it was a very steep & steady climb up a bulldozer track cut into the side of the hills.

We climbed & climbed in the ute and very nearly thought we were on the wrong track, I'm sure the sheep thought we were mad, it certainly looked like they hadn't seen anyone in a long while. This was the first real 4WD outing the ute has had & David was very impressed with the performance especially on the downhill leg when HDC (hill descent control) is selected & the ute takes over the whole descent. You only have to steer it.

We finally saw the mine sign & then couldn't decide if we wanted to do climb down a very steep & slippery hill & fight our way through scrub up the otherside to it. In the end we figured we'd come this far we might as well complete the task. The mine is located on the rock face in the centre of the first photo, you can see the track up to it on the otherside of a stream we had to cross first. And if you click on the photo & look closely you'll see our vehicle parked on the track just about where the row of pines finishes, the second photo is taken from the mine entrance.

Half way up the vehicle track we suddenly remembered we needed a torch! Duh! Visiting a pitch black old disused mine without a torch would be just silly. Luckily David remembered he had a small magnetic LCD torch that he uses to check that the hitch has grabbed stuck in the tray under the hitch in the tray of the ute. That would have to do. I even have a head torch I use when doing night photography that would have been ideal for the cave. Next time we must be more organised!

The mine had three tunnels, two didn't go very far and after stumbling through the pitch blackness, me holding David's shirt tail so I didn't get left behind we found another entrance. We didn't spot any glowworms on the way through but found them on the way back, dozens of them sparkling away on the ceiling and sides of the walls looking like a lost milky way. Of course we had to turn the torch off to see them and any photos just don't show the tiny grubs although we you can see their hanging threads that they use to catch food.

Before we saw the glowworms, in a little short side tunnel when David shone the torch up on the ceiling just a foot or so away from our heads we found dozens of cave wetas! My mother's favourite insects. Not. Yikes! I know they can't harm you but they were quite scary all the same. They have such long legs & feelers & moved quite fast when disturbed.
I made the pictures large just for you Mum :)


Weta Facts

• The weta is only found in New Zealand and is so old it has outlived the dinosaurs.
• Weta are large by insect standards. Some of the giant weta are enormous and are amongst the heaviest insects in the world
• The weta is sometimes called the dinosaur of the insect world
• The weta is more primitive than the tuatara. The weta has changed very little in the past 100 million years.
• Weta have their ears on their front knees and can feel the vibrations of noises around them.
• You can tell a male and female weta apart because females have a long ovipositor, which looks a bit like a stinger, which they use to lay eggs.

Types of Weta

There are five different types of weta – tree weta, cave weta, giant weta, tusked weta and ground weta. All together there are over 100 different species of weta.
There are 60 species of Cave Weta. 
 • They are mostly found in caves, which is a good place to hide from predators like rats, but they can also be found in other dark places such as under houses and logs.
• Cave weta have big back legs and can jump up to two metres!  (luckily I didn't read this before we went!!)
• The cave weta has very long antennae and legs. It uses it’s antennae to feel around in the dark.
• The cave weta can live up to seven years
 We also found this large spider & web(last photo) on one of the walls.

And that was that, we had a great afternoon & slept well last night after clambering up & down hills. We're packing the van up now, tie-ing everything down ready for the gravel road, will be heading out of here early afternoon to park up by the water until about 4pm when we'll set off on our next "little" adventure.

Happy Easter everyone.

More photos here from White Star Station, Colville


  1. The kids loved the photos of the wetas!!!

    1. I wonder how they'd be with them live! :) I want to hold a giant weta one day.


Thanks for taking the time to comment, it's much appreciated.