The Waitaki region is home to strong seasonal landscapes, windswept beaches, mysterious boulders and Maori heritage.
You can't visit the Waitaki area without making a stop at the Moeraki Boulders. These huge, spherical boulders weighs several tonnes and are up to 2-metres high; steeped in Maori legend, it is said that the boulders are gourds washed ashore from a voyaging canoe. Contrastingly, scientists say the formations are made out of calcite and were formed 65 million years ago. Whichever story you believe, the boulders are beautiful and mysterious and make for a great photo opportunity.
Unique geology can be found throughout the district. Other popular geo-attractions include the Clay Cliffs and Elephant Rocks – which featured in the film Narnia, the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. These formations are all a part of the Waitaki Whitestone Geopark(opens in new window), an aspiring global geopark which combines and promotes a network of sites of geological, historical and cultural significance.
The geopark blankets the district and as you journey through the Waitaki, you'll find incredible variation of contrasting landscapes which change with the seasons – from the snowy peaks of the rugged South Island high country down river valleys, alongside lakes and hydro dams through a patchwork of rolling emerald hills to the beautiful beaches of an unspoilt coastline.
The windswept beaches are home to an abundance of wildlife, including yellow-eyed penguins, little blue penguins, other marine birds and a significant colony of New Zealand fur seals.
Observe the world's smallest penguin with a visit to the Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony. You'll be able to watch them arriving home from their day at sea and returning to their nests.