Waitaki Whitestone aspiring Global Geopark

Waitaki was formed under an ancient sea and is built on the remains of prehistoric creatures from a vanished world.

An abundance of unique geological and geomorphological features including the Moeraki Boulders, karsted limestone at Elephant Rocks, as well as “badlands” and faults at Clay Cliffs.


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.

KEY GEO-SITES

Duntroon
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Anatini

A beautiful gorge set in a working farm with remnants of an ancient seafloor that at one time stretch much further inland than the present-day coastline at Oamaru.

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Kakanui
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Campbell’s Bay / All Day Bay

Campbell’s Bay is a great beach for surfing, swimming and having fun in the sun.
This beach is immediately south of the headland in Kakanui and provides a surfable break and a safe swimming beach which is frequented by Hector’s Dolphins who love to play in the surf.

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Lake Ohau
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Clay Cliffs

Explore these staggering natural land forms. The Clay Cliffs are a geological wonder; ‘bad land’ sharp pinnacles and ridges separated by steep and narrow ravines.

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Duntroon
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Earthquakes

Intriguing name, intriguing fossils and house-sized rocks. Earthquakes was given its name when it was thought the house-size rocks were dislodged by earthquakes. Instead, the boulders were split away due to the land slumping many years ago.

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Duntroon
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Elephant Rocks

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.

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Moeraki
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Katiki Historic Reserve

A cape-top walk to take your breath away. This historic and still working lighthouse sits high above the Pacific Ocean and the walkway down to the coast where endangered Yellow-Eyed Penguins and Fur Seals can be viewed, is absolutely spectacular.

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Hampden
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Moeraki Boulders

These massive, spherical concretions, commonly known to locals as boulders, were formed around 60 million years ago and can be seen scattered along Koekohe Beach.

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Palmerston
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Puketapu Hill

Puketapu Hill You can’t but help notice this prominent peak towering above the settlement of Palmerston.  At its top, there is a monument which recognises Sir John McKenzie, a prominent citizen of the past.  The peak was formed by volcanic activity.     Physical address : Puketapu HillPalmerstonNew Zealand 

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Palmerston
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Shag Point (Matakaea Reserve)

Shag Point/ Matakaea Reserve Shag Point/Matakaea Reserve is a great spot for wildlife viewing and is part of a geologically curios and intriguing coastline. New Zealand fur seals can normally be seen in good numbers on the rock selves around Shag Point. There are two short seal-viewing walks where visitors

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Duntroon
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Takiroa Rock Art

Follow in the footsteps of our Maori forefathers who navigated the length of the Waitaki River and sheltered under limestone cliffs by visiting an ancient Takiroa Maori Rock Art site.

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Moeraki
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Trotters Gorge

As well as offering camping, the DOC-managed Trotters Gorge is a beautiful reserve with fantastic walking tracks to caves, through pockets of native forest, streams and more. There are 3 walks to choose from.

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Duntroon
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Vanished World Center

The Centre has interpretive displays including unique world-class fossils – whales, dolphins, penguins, sharks and many shellfish while the trail introduces some key geological localities in North Otago.

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For more information about the Geopark :   

You can also listen to ‘Georadio’,
the weekly Waitaki Whitestone Geopark radio programme