Waitaki was formed under an ancient sea and is built on the remains of prehistoric creatures from a vanished world.
Straddling the 45th parallel South, on the east coast of the South Island, the geopark is bounded by mountains and sea, the remnants of fire and ice, and the powerful Waitaki River.
The park covers just over 7,200km2. At the heart of it all are spectacular areas of karst. Karst landscapes are underlain by limestone which has been eroded by dissolution, producing ridges, towers, fissures, sinkholes and other characteristic landforms.
The karst landscape and its ‘whitestone’ are integral to the identity of the Waitaki region. The first people in the area found shelter in limestone caves, leaving now-treasured rock art. Waitaki’s largest town, Oamaru, is renowned for fine limestone architecture. Today, the Vanished World Centre celebrates the wonderous fossils that emerge from the region’s whitestone. This is why our geopark is proudly named the Waitaki Whitestone Aspiring Global Geopark.
60 million years in the making – just for your enjoyment. The large hummocky rock formations that look a lot like Elephants were created after fossil-rich limestone deposited millions of years ago eroded, leaving behind an incredible boulder-field which towers above your head.