5 Geological Treasures in the Waitaki
- Te Kaihinaki | Moeraki Boulders. The boulders are a famous attraction for a reason. These striking round rocks, can be up to 3 metres in diameter and weigh several tonnes. They were formed on the ancient seafloor muds between 55 and 70 million years ago and have been the backdrop of photographs for over a century. Sunrise is a very popular time to try to get the perfect shot.
- Elephant Rocks. The 'elephants' are formed from Otekaike Limestone, which originated as a fossil-rich marine sand when the area was occupied by large shallow seas with isolated islands. Wander through the towering rocks, which are a geological wonder. This unique scenery was featured in the film 'The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe'.
- Takiroa Rock Art. Takiroa is a significant landmark in the traditions of Ngāi Tahu Whānui. This rock shelter lies on an ancient pathway following the Waitaki River from the mountains to the sea. Takiroa is a physical reminder of the ancestors who have passed through this landscape. This land provided shelter, sustenance, and guidance to them and was, and still is, a place to share knowledge, a place to learn from, and a repository of people and treasures from the past.
- Wai O Toura Reserve. Located along State Highway 83, follow the track from the car park to the site and you are standing at the foot of one of North Otago’s most prominent geological formations – the Otekaike Limestone. This site has been dated as approximately 25.2 million years old at the bottom of the cliff and 21.7 million years old towards the top and recovered fossils include penguins, whales, dolphins and bony fish, and notable mollusc fauna.
- Maerewhenua Rock Art. Sheltered by an impressive limestone overhang with amazing views over the valley, this site contains charcoal and ochre paintings dating to before the arrival of Europeans. Moa bones have been found here, indicating hundreds of years of occupation. Maerewhenua is a significant landmark in the tradition of Ngāi Tahu Whānui. While this site is located on private land, there is a path that is open to the public. This is well worth a stop.