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Waitomo Caves. Waitomo Cave.
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Waitomo Cave The Waitomo Caves were first discovered in 1887 by local Maori Chief, Tane Tinorau, accompanied by an English mapmaker Fred Mace. Local Maori people knew of the Caves existence, but the belowground caverns had never been extensively explored until Fred and Tane went to investigate. They built a raft of flax stems and with candles as their only lighting, floated into the cave where a stream goes underground. Fred Mace Chief Tane Tinorau
Ruakuri Cave Tane Tinorau the Chief of Kawhia, had crossed the country with a war party to attack the Ngati Hau Tribe and win land in the Waitomo area. A hunter was sent to spear birds for food and he discovered the entrance to the cave which was occupied by a number of wild dogs. The wild dogs attacked the hunter who dropped his kill and fled. Later, traps were set by the war party to capture the dogs and they were killed and eaten. Tane Tinorau took his people to live near the cave. The cave entrance was used by Maori as a spiritual burial ground.
Aranui Cave In November 1910, a young Maori, Ruruku Aranui was chasing wild pigs that had ran into a local reserve. His dog chased a pig down a steep hill and the pig suddenly disappeared and so did the dog. The dogs barking led Ruruku to a small entrance into the side of the hill. He then crawled inside and with a match found them both in a high chamber that continued into the darkness. Ruruku Aranui went to Waitomo and told the manager in charge of the caves. They both then re-entered the caves exploring it further.