Back to nature
Join a tour of Gaden Cave and enter a natural fairyland filled with sparkling calcite crystals. On a tour of Cathedral Cave, you’ll be in awe of the giant limestone formation that towers above like a three- storey building. Before the Phosphate Mine tour your guide hands out hard hats and the kids pull them on, giggling at the way everyone looks. It’s time to descend into the darkness of the restored historic mine, to marvel at the tunnels that humans have carved deep into the earth, and to wonder what it was like to work down here day after day.
Caves Rd, Wellington; (02) 6845 1733 or 1800 621 614
■ The secrets hidden in the Phosphate Mine. Peer carefully among the pick marks and drill holes left in the walls by the miners. Can you see anything that looks like a bone? If you do, it might be the remains of a Diprotodon or giant wombat, the largest known marsupial that ever lived.
Diprotodons were still roaming Australia when the Aboriginal people arrived, but they became extinct about 20 000 years ago. They were hairy, and a similar shape to the modern wombat, but hundreds of times the size, being about 3.8 metres long, 1.7 metres high and weighing 2800 kilograms! They probably fed on shrubs and consumed about 100 kilograms of food a day. Australia had other megafauna including some that looked like kangaroos and koalas.
■ Each tour takes about one hour.
- Wellington Caves, Natural Wonders, Natural Wonders