Following Bill Fairweather in Spiders of New Zealand I have thought this orb web spider was a Novaranea. It has the hairy helmet, two large front-facing eyes, striped legs with spikes, and it arranges its legs just so. Now I find that in the 10 years since the book was published names have changed. Novaranea has a specific pattern on its back. This is not it. I’m not even sure if she’s an endemic species.
Whatever, a couple of minutes later I found a male that appears to be related. He was not easy to photograph because he had tucked himself into an Allium bud. See extra shot.
Update on the rabbit problem. My son climbed the fence into the paddock to remove a broom bush that was growing on my side and leaning over. He found a small rabbit body in the grass. Perhaps that is what happened to the female.