Golly gee, we were startled to turn up a spectacular critter while stacking firewood recently.
It was a banded tunnelweb, Hexathele hochstetteri, belonging to a family which according to spider experts Ray and Lyn Forster are, at least by weight, the biggest of all NZ spiders. They are primitive, closely related to the Australian funnelwebs and rather more distantly to the American tarantulas.
Unlike some of their overseas cousins, the NZ species are thought to be only slightly venomous, although a bite still can cause localised pain and inflammation.
A rare beastie
There are spiders in this country that have a bigger leg span, but for sheer bulk, these are hard to beat.
The banded tunnelweb is reasonably common and widespread throughout the North Island, but is not often seen.
We treated our guest with the utmost care and courtesy and gently placed him or her behind the wood shed. What a darling!
- Get in touch if you come across one of these hefty specimens.
- For another spider story, click here. We came across a beautiful nurseryweb while washing the dishes one day.