When I was planning our New Zealand itinerary, I came across an intriguing picture in the internet. The gigantic, spherical rocks scattered on the beach looked incredible in the sun rays… After a brief search, I finally found what is the name of this place – Moeraki Boulders! Another point was added to our trip. But do they actually look so magical?
Magic? Or maybe just an ordinary erosion?
The Maori believe that these rocky giants are in fact remains of eel baskets, gourds and sweet potatoes that the ocean washed away from the wreckage of the giant canoe Arai-te-uru. Scientists have found a bit boring explanation: boulders are actually the result of the ordinary mud erosion that occurs on the coast… I don”t know what about you, but I don’t believe in such a mesmerizing explanation 😉 If you are not planning to visit South Island, you may also see similar formations called Koutu Boulders in New Zealand’s North Island. They also appear in many states of the USA (North Dakota, Kansas, Utah or Wyoming).
Moeraki Boulders – our experience
Boulders are really huge, the largest one has a diameter of 2.2 meters! Some of them are located entirely on the shore, others are buried in the sand and you may see only a small part above the ground. Some of them cracked, showing their mysterious interior… Once again in New Zealand we felt the overwhelming power of nature, this time not the destroying (as in geothermal-volcanic surroundings of Rotorua), but rather creating one!
Moeraki Boulders are located on the beach, just off the waterline and therefore you should rather visit this place at low tide. Check the tide times the day before you visit. If you are planning to stay somewhere nearby, your hotel will definitely tell you the perfect time to see the boulders!
Tip: This is a pretty popular tourist spot, so we decided to visit just after the water started to lower and it was a great choice! We weren’t alone on the beach, but we could easily take pictures with no need to maneuver between the dozens of people 🙂 With every centimeter of water less, more and more tourists came…
What else should you visit?
If you have more time, go to the Katika Point. Just before sunset, penguins come back from the fishing expedition to the beach 🙂 There are two species here – yellow-eyed penguins (hoiho) and small penguin (korora). Meeting especially this first one is really unique -yellow-eyed penguins population is estimated at only 4000 and may only be spotted in the Otago area on the South Island, the Stewart Island and the smaller sub-Antarctic islands in the south. I have to disappoint you a little – you may watch the penguins only from the distance, there is no direct access to the beach. Initially, it’s a little hard to see these black and white dots on the beach, but once you spot them – what a satisfaction! They are moving around the beach in such a funny way… It’s definitely easier to spot here the fur seals, which also like the Katika Point 🙂
How much time do you need? One day – go admire rocky giants at low tide, and in the evening (or just after sunrise when they go fishing) – meet penguins!
How to get there? The Moeraki Boulders are located on the road no 1 connecting Christchurch and Dunedin, about an hour away from Dunedin.
Where to stay? The nearest village is Hampden with modest accommodation options. The town is really cool and it’s famous for the best Fish’n’Chips in New Zealand – Lockie’s. Supposedly, people come here even from Christchurch for a takeaway lunch! There is also a super cozy Vanessa’s Cottage Cafe with delicious cheesecakes. On the other side of the road, you will find a Merino wool shop with great prices. I bought myself a scarf for NZD 5 (about 4 EUR!). In Europe, such things are super expensive… We stayed at Moeraki Boulders Kiwi Park. It’s fantastic, very affordable place with really cool atmosphere, with rabbits jumping around the cottages. The whole campsite is located almost on the beach. As we stayed there on a Saturday, we decided to take a walk to the bar. We watched rugby together with locals, beer and some wedges 😉 Great evening!
Fee: For free! It would be nice of you if you give some money to the donation boxes after watching penguins. All the money goes directly for their protection and treatment (volunteers look after the penguins).
For more our adventures in New Zealand, click here!
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