M.D. Fahey of Rose Valley, Balclutha, asks :-

I found the enclosed spiders in my wood-pile. It isn't a species I have seen before. Can you tell me anything about the spider and is it dangerous?

Phil Sirvid, an entomologist at the Museum of New Zealand, Te Papa Tongarewa, responded.

They are both female and belong to a native genus of spiders called Neoramia. They are probably a species called Neoramia charybdis (there is no common name), although to be absolutely sure, I need to see an adult male specimen. Typically, male spiders are far easier to identify with certainty than female spiders. This particular species is known from Southland, Stewart Island as well as several of New Zealand's subantarctic islands.

According to New Zealand's foremost spider expert, the late Ray Forster, Neoramia contains about 20 species and can be found throughout the country in habitat ranging from gardens and forest to sub-alpine scree slopes. Neoramia constructs a rather untidy web rather like a tattered and tangled sheet radiating out from its retreat. These spiders are often found under logs so this could explain why you found them with the firewood you were bringing inside.

Like most spiders, it will eat whatever it can catch, so its diet is likely to include crawling insects such as beetles. There is no reason to believe they are poisonous to people. However, they are certainly large enough to bite a person and might do so if feeling threatened enough. I expect the bite effects to be like a normal reaction to a bee-sting. If bitten, good wound care to prevent infection and consulting a doctor in the unlikely event you experience any allergic reaction or other problems are recommended courses of action.