5 Waitaki wonders

02/01/2021

Tourism Waitaki highlights five of the District’s wonders:

Air NZ recently took to our crystal clear skies to find the 8th wonder of the world within Aotearoa.

The Moeraki Boulders got a shout out so we thought we’d divulge a little more information on the many wonders of the Waitaki, just as Antipater of Sidon did in the 2nd century B.C. creating the first wonders of the world list as a guide for tourists in the ancient world.

While only one of the original wonders of the world still exists, these five destinations on our list have all withstood the test of time.

They’re all part of the Vanished World trail within the aspiring Waitaki Whitestone Geoparkand are perfect spots to visit this summer:

1. The Moeraki Boulders

Alien eggs, giant gobstoppers, the Stonehenge of New Zealand—however you refer to the spherical boulders they’re a mysterious must-see!

According to Maori legend, the Arai-te-uru canoe, one of the earliest to reach the South Island crashed on the golden shores of Shag Point, casting the food baskets into the sea, and they washed ashore along a stretch of Koekohe beach where they still exist today, as the Moeraki boulders.

Formed around 60 million years ago, each boulder started life as a pebble or fossil on an ancient sea floor. Over time, the boulders grew into spherical wonders by mud accretion and calcification.

Some of these boulders weigh several tonnes and the most impressive are over two metres wide so don’t even think about bringing one of these onto your Air NZ flights. 

2. Valley of the Whales

With steep limestone walls either side of you, standing in the Valley of the Whales you can almost imagine you’re at the bottom of the world. All along the Awamoko stream that weaves through the lush country land here, the bones and remains of ancient marine creatures, including sea urchins, dolphins, and rare whales can be found.

You’re likely to see more than you expected at this underrated site.

3. Elephant Rocks

You won’t see any actual Elephants roaming the plains south of Duntroon. Nor, are there fossilised remains of the delightful pachyderm. You’ll have to use your imagination!

The large mass of weathered limestone scattered across the grassy fields look like strange creatures made of stone.

There is some debate about which ones resemble the humble elephant…

4. Anatini

Millions of years ago, Anatini was at the bottom of the sea, and now the curious limestone outcrops and caves that remain make the perfect locale for a picnic, 400 metres above sea level.

The name Anatini stems from Maori meaning many caves, and yes there is a lot to explore throughout the sheltered valley.

Hide and seek could last a long time here. Fossils can be spotted in the limestone, including the main drawcard, the partially exposed remains of a baleen whale, which has been placed under plexiglass to ensure its protection.

5. Paritea Clay Cliffs

The striking landforms of the Paritea Clay Cliffs were originally formed as gravels, sands and silt in fresh water lakes and rivers.

The sediments, which were deposited around 20 million years ago, were over time buried and compressed, then uplifted and eroded.

Standing in the heart of the canyon surrounded by sharp pinnacles and steep ravines you’ll feel a flourish within your souls, awe-struck, and possibly feel quite small.

If you want to see photos of these sites, click on the links.


Really, really old

23/08/2009

My Australian nieces have brought their parents to visit us.

As you do when you’re in North Otago they went to look at Elephant Rocks and the skeleton of the baleen whale.

Miss four was telling me about the whale, ” . . . and it didn’t have any skin.”

I explained that was because it was really, really old which got the inevitable question, “how old?”

I replied millions and millions of years. She looked blank.

I said, “even older than me.”

The light went on.


Picnic at Elephant Rocks

04/01/2009

Elephant Rocks, a few kilometres south eastish of Duntroon,  was the setting for the battle scenes in Chronicles of Narnia, it’s also part of the Vanished World trail and today provided the perfect place for a sunny Sunday picnic.

elephant-rocks-004


til we have built Jerusalem . . .

24/11/2008

Well it’s not quite like Blake’s poem.

It is a Biblical village but it’s not  Jerusalem and this isn’t England’s green and pleasant land, it’s New Zealand.

More specifically it’s Elephant Rocks  in North Otago where they’re building the set for the film Kingdom Come on the life of Jesus.

film-001


Christ’s life to be filmed on Benmore

21/08/2008

The battle scene in Chronicles of Narnia took place at Elephant Rocks, near Duntroon. Now a Sea of Galilee fishing village will be built further up the Waitaki Valley on the shores of Lake Benmore for a film about the life of Jesus Christ.

Filming of the independent film Kingdom Come, which will employ up to 400 people, is scheduled to begin about the middle of February. Construction of the set is expected to start shortly at the Falstone camping reserve on the lake’s Haldon Arm.

The Falstone area and Lake Benmore were chosen by Wellington-based film company, South Vineyard Ltd, after an extensive search throughout New Zealand for a lake environment that best depicted a location on the Sea of Galilee in Israel.

The Narnia filming brought a lot of money in to North Otago.

The propsect of accommodating, feeding and providing other services to 400 people for a couple of months will be welcomed by local businesses. If the Narnia experience can be relied on, there will be a further boost from increased tourism once the film is released.


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