A man who unearthed a giant tube web spider in Pongaroa was the most clicked on story of the year on the Times-Age website.

Matt Charlton, a Tararua district earth works business owner, was clearing forestry when he came across a very large spider "bigger than his hand".

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

He said these spiders were common to New Zealand and could be found anywhere in the country but it wasn't often people came across the open-mouthed burrowing spiders as they lived underground.

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

The story, which was also published on the NZ Herald website, was shared 22,000 times across Facebook and received 72 comments from readers - fascinated and horrified.

Michelle Eaton said: "This is truly amazing. I'm not a fan of spiders but what a beautiful creature.

"I must admit would be a tiny bit scared if he was on my shoulder lol.

"I'm happy they live underground, great photo though, thanks for sharing."

Penzme said: "I remember you from 40 years ago ... as a kid we used to find them under the rocks in my neighbours garden. But this is the biggest I've seen."

Hine Mitchell said: "Got to see a doco on these, absolutely amazing creature, I just love Aotearoa."

Griff Griff said: "I had one crawl up my leg when I was digging over an old garden in Huia. I don't know what made me look down but when I flicked it off I did swear a lot.

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"Some said I made a girly screeching noise, but I'm sure it was far more manly than that. I decided to go and have a beer and give the spider a chance to move on before going back to the garden with my trousers tucked tightly into my socks."

Teeps said: "Forget the mortein how bout a spade?

"I know its one of gods creations but EEEK."