Story: Limestone country

Stalactites (3rd of 3)


Stalactites form when drips of water fall from the ceiling of a cave. Before dripping drops deposit a tiny amount of calcite (calcium carbonate). Over time this builds up on the ceiling and a tapered growth extends downwards. In places where there are many drips, such as this cave at Waitomo, a whole field of stalactites can build up. Stalactites can extend so far downwards that they meet stalagmites (which grow upwards from cave floors) forming columns.

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GNS Science
Reference: CN32722/19
Photograph by Lloyd Homer

Permission of GNS Science must be obtained before any use of this image.

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How to cite this page:

Paul Williams, 'Limestone country - Caves', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 7 July 2022)

Story by Paul Williams, published 24 Sep 2007