Eco-explorers will want to discover the aspiring Waitaki Whitestone Geopark, a story of New Zealand land that reveals limestone landscapes, fossils of an ancient marine world, extinct volcanoes, braided rivers, and major awe-inspiring landforms.
The Valley is popular for its many walks including Benmore Track, a short, sharp climb that zigzags up to a magnificent view of Mt Cook, and Kurow Hill, a steep track that blessedly has armchairs positioned along the way.
Trotters Gorge, protected as a scenic reserve, is a popular day trip with several walking tracks to explore, a picnic area and a camping ground. Stunning limestone cliffs command the scenery and the gorge itself is a thing of botanical beauty, lush with native bush from kowhai to kanuka.
There’s also the tussock, rivers, forests, and valuable wetlands of Ahuriri Conservation Park to traverse either by foot, bike, or horseback. Then there’s the mountainous high country, scree slopes, and shrubland to explore while four wheel driving, tramping, and fishing through Oteake Conservation Park.
From Moeraki beach, peppered with mysterious must-see boulders formed over a million years ago, to Bushy Beach where you can spy yellow-eyed penguins and seals coming ashore, there are plenty of places to soak up a good dose of bio-diversity in the Waitaki District.
Experience wildlife in a natural setting at the Ōamaru Blue Penguin Colony and watch as the world’s smallest penguins come ashore for the evening.
Situated just five minutes from the township of Ōamaru, the colony operates both day and evening viewings year-round, with peak season (August-February) welcoming over 200 penguins coming in from the cold.
The colony has been selected twice as a finalist in the New Zealand Tourism Awards for its’ success in environmental protection and research (2018/2019). The colony was also selected by Zurich University to be one of 20 sites across the globe (the only within Oceania) to have a video installation observing and recording wildlife in their natural habitats. The footage will be showcased in a newly designed walkable exhibition in Zurich synchronically alongside all the other videos collected to create an immersive experience to urgently raise awareness of climate change.
The Waitaki District is home to more than one eco-friendly boutique hideaway. On the foothills of Mt. Domett lies Valley View Glamping. The luxury accommodation is a purpose-built, off-grid, solar powered eco lodge. You can wake up to the birds singing and cows grazing in the distance, all without getting your feet dirty.
If you’re headed to Kurow, you’ll want to relax and unwind at the Sparrowhawk Eco Retreat where you can walk in the wilderness, bathe under the stars, and dip your feet into the snow-fed stream.
We hope your travels throughout the Waitaki District are not only wonderful but rewardingly resourceful!
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