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Moeraki is on the East Coast of the South Island of New Zealand, 35 km south of Oamaru, and 80 km north of Dunedin. Moeraki is famed as a tourist destination because of the remarkable Moeraki Boulders.
This place “rocks”
The Moeraki Boulders are scientifically explained as calcite concretions formed some 65 million years ago. Crystallization of calcium and carbonates around charged particles gradually formed the boulders in a process not unlike that which creates pearls. It is estimated to have taken as long as four million years.
The soft mudstone containing the boulders was raised from the seabed around 15 million years ago; and waves, wind and rain continue to excavate them one by one. They are astonishing to look at, so perfectly spherical it seems preposterous they can have occurred naturally. Local Māori legends explain the boulders as the remains of eel baskets, calabashes, and kumara washed ashore from the waka Arai-te-uru.
The boulders are located on Koekohe Beach, between the towns of Moeraki and Hampden. It is an easy drive on State Highway 1 from the north or south. Once there, you can walk one of several short walks and loops which offer views of the boulders and ocean.
See the sea life
The town of Moeraki was inhabited first by Māori, and then European whalers began to arrive in the 1830's when a whaling station was established. Like much of the Otago coast, the oceans off Moeraki are abounding with a staggering variety of sea life.
The rich feeding grounds attract fish and plankton, which in turn attract marine birds, seals, dolphins and the occasional whale. This makes fishing a valuable contributor to both the local economy and to tourism. It also makes Moeraki the ideal destination for famed restauranteur Fleur Sullivan's seafood restaurant, where the fish is literally straight from the fishing boats.
Visit beautiful historical buildings
Among the historical treasures found in Moeraki is the Katiki Point Lighthouse, also known as Moeraki Lighthouse, which shone for the first time on April 22, 1878. The 8m high wooden tower was restored by Maritime New Zealand in 2006.
The Kotahitanga Church in Moeraki, built in 1862 is the oldest surviving Maori mission church building in the South Island. The church contains one of the earliest examples of stained glass that depicts a New Zealand born individual - significant to not only Ngai Tahu (the local tribe) and the people of Moeraki, but also to New Zealand as a whole.
Moeraki is also home to a yellow eyed penguin sanctuary and a seal colony. It is perfect for a weekend getaway or stopover on your South Island holiday.
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