These large, spherical boulders can be found on a stretch of Koekohe Beach, between Moeraki and Hampden. You will find them in clusters or standing alone. The stretch of beach where they stand has been named a scientific reserve.
The boulders have been formed near the surface of the seafloor during the Paleocene era. They have been created by the cementation of mudstone and the larger boulders of 2 metres in diameter have taken almost 5 million years to grow.
Coastal erosion has exposed the boulders.
its not of the beaten path, State Highway 1 goes through this enchanting town of the South Island, with its victorian, white Stone Buildings. the Harbour Precinct, the lovely pubs, the Pengy Statue. but I wont repeat myself. have a look at my separate Oamaru page, you might like it.
more pix from the Moeraki Boulders and the Blue Pengy's
According to the Maori folklore "the Kai" (food)
hinaki (baskets) were washed ashore at Moeraki from the canoe Arai - uru, which was wrecked off the coast on a voyage south in search off the precious stone.
(Greenstone or Jade).
The Scientific Version
The Moeraki Boulders consist mainly of carbonate of lime, silica, alumina and peroxide of iron. Formed around a central core of lime crystals which appear to have the power of attracting and consolidating the above ingredients from the adjacent soil. The shape of the boulders is not due to the action of the sea. The boulders are 60 million years old.
Moeraki boulders are approximately 20 spherical rocks located on Koekohe Beach, close to Moeraki. The beach can only be reached by a staircase from the tourist office located at street level. Be sure to be there at low tide, or boulders will be partially submerged.
These beautiful and unique rocks come from the erosion of the nearby coast, the youngest one is still being delivered! A few boulders are broken and look like alien eggs :)
We thought we would have been disappointed by the boulders because of the stormy wheather, but they looked great in any case. Don't worry about the wheather conditons, this nature wonder will always be perfect for pictures!
I hesitate to use the word 'village' as it isn't used that much in New Zealand. But if you picture 'sleepy fishing village' that sums up Moeraki quite nicely. It's a few minutes drive further along the main State Highway 1, away from the famous Boulders. A narrow road hugging the hillside winds down to the pretty harbour dotted with fishing boats. A memorial topped with a small Moeraki boulder commemorates the area's whaling port history and there are a couple of craft shops worth browsing. You can fossick along the beach or follow the road round past Fleur's (the well-known seafood restaurant - see separate tip) where it climbs back up above the township to a lookout point.
There are a few motels and B & B's in Moeraki. It would make a quiet overnight stop or a peaceful short break away from the main tourist centres.
The Boulders are scattered along an empty stretch of beach a little way out of the actual township of Moeraki. Although they are not unique (there are others in the North island and elsewhere in the world) they are by far the most famous in New Zealand and it's well worth stopping to check them out.
Some are over 2 meters in diameter and some are cracked or even in pieces, allowing you to see the calcite formations inside. They are believed to have taken millions of years to form and would once - something like 60 million years ago - have lain deep beneath the ocean floor. The scientific name for them is 'septarian concretions' but Maori legend tells us that they are food baskets which have washed ashore from the wreck of a Maori waka (canoe).
A cafe in the shape of a boulder (!) serves light refreshments and there is also a decent gift shop with quite a good range - more than just boulder-shaped fridge magnets! An honesty box asks for a donation for the upkeep of the path down to the beach and I believe the short stretch of road from the main highway.
People love to get their photo taken standing on them, but every time I have been there the tide has been in just enough and the weather just cold enough for me to decide against that!
raised from the seabed some 15 million ago. the scientiest tells us, septerian concretions formed some 65 millon years ago, crystalisation of calcium and carbonates charge particles in the muddy undersea gradually formed the boulders.
the Maori legend tells us an other story:...the boulders are gourds and calabashes, traditional Maori food, washed from the great waka when it was wrecked upon landfall, some 1000 years ago
if you can, stay a whole day, the light changes the perspective of the boulders, quite magicaly.
an other information: after the boulders hit the beach, the sea, who made them, destroy them as well, the constant wave pounding is so forceful, that the boulders after a while, fall apart.
take your time, have a walk around the cliff's as well. Blue or Yellow Eyed Pengy's will come your way, late afternoon is a good time...and Seals might cross your way, be careful with those, they are sometimes agressiv
The story according to scentists is not quite so exciting. The boulders have come from the mudstone cliffs behind where they eroded away and have been given their round shape by erosion from the surf. They are known as septarian concretions, formed when minerals crystalised equally in all directions from an organic nuclei.
Ngai Tahu legend relate the boulders to a a load washed ashore from the shipwrecked canoe Arai Te Uru which was on a voyage in search of the prized greenstone. The round stones here are thought to be the food baskets, and the more irregular shaped boulders further south are sweet potatoes. The reef at Shag Point is the wreck of the canoe.
The beach near the point is sometimes visited by fur seals (oct-march) and yelloe eyed penguins, which usually come ashore between 3.30 and nightfall. There's a small hide where you can keep watch.