The Mysterious Moeraki Boulders
You simply can’t drive along the North Otago coast without stopping to stare at the Mysterious Moeraki Boulders – they’re amazing!
Scientists explain the boulders as calcite concretions formed about 65 million years ago. According to Maori legend, the boulders are gourds washed ashore from the great voyaging canoe Araiteuru when it was wrecked upon landfall in New Zealand hundreds of years ago. They date from the Paleocene epoch, making them at least 56 million years old.
The Moeraki Boulders are unusually large and spherical boulders lying along a stretch of Koekohe Beach on the wave-cut Otago coast of New Zealand between Moeraki and Hampden. The town of Moeraki is most famous for its boulders; mysteriously spherical stones scattered across a beach. Each boulder weighs several tonnes and is up to two meters high.
They occur scattered, either as isolated or clusters of boulders, within a stretch of beach where they have been protected in. The erosion by wave action of mudstone, comprising local bedrock and landslides, frequently exposes embedded isolated boulders. It is clear to see why these boulders have become a popular tourist attraction.
Our days of Eli running into the water, are MOSTLY behind us. Given the chance, however, he will still wander too far into the water. He has no idea how strong the current is. We allow him a little freedom, but stay close by. Often it only take one fall and he realizes that he needs to be more careful. Awful parenting? hahaha… works for us. He got knocked over, Justin jumped towards him and pulled him up. The result: Eli stayed on the sand instead of running into the waves for the rest of our time on the beach.
*Helicopter-parents GAWK!* Hehehe, sorry folks!
A cluster of highly spherical boulders
The most striking thing about the boulders is their unusually large size and round shape. Approximately one-third of the boulders range in size from about 0.5 to 1.0 meters in diameter, the other two-thirds from 1.5 to 2.2 meters. Most are spherical or almost spherical, but a small proportion are slightly elongated.
Similar Boulders Elsewhere
These are definitely not the only boulders such as this in the world. I was quite surprised to learn that large spherical concretions similar in size and shape to the Moeraki Boulders have been found in many other countries.
Similar boulder-size concretions, known as Katiki Boulders, are also found on the north-facing shore of Shag Point some 19 km south of where the Moeraki Boulders are found. These concretions occur as both spherical cannonball concretions and flat, disk-shaped or oval concretions. Unlike the Moeraki boulders, some of these concretions contain the bones of mosasaurs (an extinct group of large marine reptiles) and plesiosaurs (Mesozoic marine reptiles).
Imagination Running Wild
These giant boulder looked more like dinosaur eggs to me, and the few that were cracked open really got my imagination running wild. I don’t know what it was about it, but this beach really mystified me! I imagine that stopping here at sunrise would be phenomenal! Driving times just didn’t allow for it, but maybe someday…
Little man found a long piece of seaweed and put it in his mouth (haha, of course, straight into the mouth). He probably didn’t know why we were giggling him, but our laughter made him keep it there. He looked like an old little man.
This was a fascinating stop, and we loved walking along the beach while freely exploring the Moeraki Boulders.
We would highly recommend a stop here. It was completely worth it!