Worker unearths giant Wairarapa spider

By Cherie Taylor -
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CREEPY: Matt Charlton discovered this large native spider from the stanwellia species, crawling across pine cones as he cleared a road through bush at Pongaroa.
CREEPY: Matt Charlton discovered this large native spider from the stanwellia species, crawling across pine cones as he cleared a road through bush at Pongaroa.

If Matt Charlton had taken home a large spider he found crawling through Pongaroa forestry he'd have "been out on his ear so fast" he wouldn't have had time to think twice, his partner Renee Floyd says.

The Tararua district earth works business owner was clearing forestry for a road at Pongaroa with a worker when he came across a very large spider "bigger than his hand" and flicked a photograph of it to his very terrified partner.

She told the Times-Age it was a good thing he'd left the spider, commonly known as a tube web spider, right where he found it.

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A Te Papa arachnologist has identified the spider as one of 10 from the stanwellia species which are similar to the trapdoor spider, only they burrow under the ground.

Ms Floyd readily admits to loathing the creepy, crawly arachnids.

"I'm terrified of them."

The photograph was enough to scare her, she said.

"I could barely look at it ... If Matt had brought it home he'd have been out so fast. It was just horrible. I'd have been knocked out if I'd seen it. It was bigger than his hand ... I can't believe they exist that big in New Zealand."

On first seeing the large spider crawling across pine cones towards his backpack, Mr Charlton thought it was a baby possum: "He couldn't believe it was a spider."

Arachnophobics be warned - these spiders are common to New Zealand and can be found anywhere in the country "from the Three Kings Islands to Stewart Island", said arachnologist Phil Sirvid from Te Papa.

"They are everywhere ... they are not found anywhere else in the world."

However, it's not often people come across the open-mouthed burrowing spiders, as they live underground, he said.

"If you come across one, be amazed, you have seen something that is uncommonly seen."

While these spiders are not as big as the Nelson Cave spider they can have a body size around 20mm and legs as long as 15cm.

They are not poisonous but can leave a good bite, Mr Sirvid said.

"They are large enough to bite but are not considered dangerous to people."

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