The Famous Moeraki boulders

Marvellously huge marbles all over the beach.

Image Source: Tourism New Zealand. Otago Peninsula beach, New Zealand
Moeraki Boulders, Oamaru
Photographer: Hiroshi Nameda

The famous Moeraki Boulders lie scattered along Koekohe Beach, 40 kilometres south of Oamaru, in the Otago region of New Zealand.

The boulders weigh several tonnes and are up to three metres in diametre.

How the Moeraki Boulders were Formed

There is much debate over how the Moeraki Boulders were formed.

Maori Legend

According to Maori legend, the Moeraki Boulders are gourds washed from the great voyaging canoe Araiteuru when it was wrecked upon landfall in New Zealand some 1,000 years ago.

Scientific Explanation

Scientists explain the Moeraki Boulders as septarian concretions formed about 65 million years ago.

Crystallization of calcium and carbonates around charged particles in muddy undersea sediments gradually formed the boulders in a process taking as long as four million years.

The soft mudstone containing the boulders was raised from the seabed around 15 million years ago and sea erosion is exposing the erosion-resistant boulders.

The Moeraki Boulders Today

The coastal elements are slowly eroding the Moeraki Boulders into fascinating shapes and uncovering new ones.

The viewing platform, just a few minutes walk through regenerating native shrubland, offers good views of the Moeraki Boulders and, if you are lucky, New Zealand (Hector's) dolphins playing in the waves.

Moeraki Village

Moeraki is a world-famous destination, not just for its amazing boulders.

This charming seaside town also has a yellow-eyed penguin sanctuary, a seal colony, Hectors dolphins that can be seen from the shore and a vibrant fishing community.

Within the small village, the Kotahitanga Church is an attraction. Built in 1862, the church contains beautiful stained glass windows made and imported from Rome.

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