The Moeraki boulders, and other rocks

Boulders sea sky

New Zealand is home to some pretty impressive bits of rock, as my posts on Milford Sound and Mount Cook should by now have made clear.

However, looking at the slightly smaller scale, there is no shortage of impressive stuff either.

In today’s post I’m going to be looking at three smaller scale rocky locales that you might consider visiting on your way through New Zealand’s south island.

The Moeraki Boulders

The Moeraki boulders are situated between the towns of Dunedin and Oamaru on the south islands east coast. Looking for all the world like a giant set of lost marbles, or perfectly round eggs, they are literally hatched out of the mudrock of the coast and then, over a period of time, broken up by the sea.

Moeraki boulders beach sky

The process by which they are formed is not fully understood, but it is believed to be similar to how a pearl forms in an oyster – involving a bit of grit and quite a lot of time.

Whatever the process is, these boulders – in varying states of being from hatching to dissolving, are a seriously weird sight, as they sit, ranged along the beach. Of the three boulder spots I’m going to talk about they are without doubt the most popular in terms of tourist attractions.

Penguin Club

Whilst you are in the area, I’d also recommend a visit to the town of Oamaru, a little to the North. This town has a history of limestone mining, which whilst not interesting of itself, does mean that many of the buildings are pretty awesome to look at.

It’s also home to the funky looking Penguin Club – famous for it’s live music – and a really splendid looking steampunk gallery. Not to be missed.

Elephant Rocks

Turning inland from Oamaru, the highway heads towards the mighty Mount Cook. On the way, there are examples of Maori rock art (which are, frankly, not really worth bothering with) and an interesting route that can be followed showcasing the geology of the area.

Elephant Rocks and Vera

Whilst geology may not be everyone’s cup of tea, a trip to the elephant rocks should be. As well as being part of the set for the Narnia films, these giant boulders seem entirely out of place in the midst of a large bit of arable farmland.

The backdrop of the southern alps completes the picture, and you can spend quite some time enjoying these boulders. The name, incidentally, comes from the fact that one of the rocks looks like an elephant. Personally I couldn’t see it, but you might have more luck.

Elephant Rocks boulder field sky

Castle Rock

Further north than the previous two rock based entries in this post is the Castle Rock recreation reserve, which can be found on the road to Arthurs Pass – New Zealand’s highest town, situated in the middle of the southern alps.

Castle Rock boulders

We stopped here because they looked rather funky from the road, and discovered that we had quite by accident stumbled upon one of the worlds premiere locations for bouldering.

Bouldering, if you are as clueless as I was upon arrival, involves taking yourself to a large rock, and clambering up it, freestyle.

boulders snow mountains sky

A large mat to fall on to appears to be the main bit of bouldering equipment you will require, and these were dotted all over the place, with people clambering all over the boulders – in spite of the snowy conditions. Worth a visit, even if just to gape at people doing crazy things.

And that was it for the small scale boulder encountering action. If you’ve found some spots in New Zealand, or even in the world, where the small scale scenery has impressed you nearly as much as the big stuff, let me know in the comments below :)

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