The Waitaki region is a place of scenic contrast and haunting natural beauty. Experience mysterious boulders, windswept beaches and Maori rock art.
The Waitaki region combines wild, windswept coastline with emerald plains and towering mountains. The middle of the region’s coastline is home to the small town of Moeraki and its huge spherical boulders. Scattered along the beach, the Moeraki boulders are more than 65 million years old and are easily accessed from the beach. Look out for the Hector’s dolphins that are often seen playing in the waves beyond.
Continuing north, stop in at Oamaru and look at the historic whitestone architecture, an amazing townscape that towers over a charming community. From here, you can even hop on your bike and follow the Alps to Ocean Cycleway in reverse all the way to Aoraki Mount Cook.
TOP THINGS TO DO IN OAMARU AND WAITAKI
Explore Oamaru and Waitaki’s remarkable geological formations, wildlife and unique history.
A visit to the Oamaru Victorian Precinct is an entertaining day out exploring the world as it appeared in Victoria times. There is a lot to see and do from the art galleries, artist studios, the curiosity shop, car museum, cafe’s, restaurants, and heritage architecture to the option of hiring Victorian costumes, and if you dare – to try and ride a penny farthing!
Experience total relaxation at the Ōmarama Hot Tubs. Set against the stunning Waitaki and Mackenzie Country scenery you can immerse yourself in pure mountain water as you enjoy views across the lake to the mountains during the day, or sit underneath a star filled sky at night. To truly rejuvenate you can experience the hot stone sauna and a therapeutic massage. A visit to Ōmarama will leave you feeling relaxed and refreshed, ready to enjoy the rest of your holiday!
Just 20 minutes drive from Ōmarama are the Clay Cliffs. Originally formed more than one million years ago by the flow of ancient glaciers these unusual pinnacles form a maze of ravines to explore.
To view the world as it might have been a trip to Steampunk HQ in Oamaru is a must. This steampunk attraction houses an eclectic collection of industrial steampunk sculptures, a metagalatic pipe organ and offers Pedal Punk cycle hire – a steampunk themed cycle that you can enjoy as you make your way around the town.
Towns in Waitaki
Don’t miss the little blue penguins of Oamaru and the spectacular town of Kurow, which sits at the junction of two rivers.
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, an aspiring global geopark which combines and promotes a network of sites of geological, historical and cultural significance.
You simply can’t drive along the North Otago coast without stopping to stare at the Moeraki Boulders – they’re amazing!
Moeraki is now most famous for its boulders; mysteriously spherical stones scattered across a beach. Each boulder weighs several tonnes and is up to two metres high.Scientists explain the boulders as calcite concretions formed about 65 million years ago. According to Maori legend, the boulders are gourds washed ashore from the great voyaging canoe Araiteuru when it was wrecked upon landfall in New Zealand hundreds of years ago.
How to get to Moeraki Boulders
The boulders are located on Koekohe Beach, between the towns of Moerkai and Hampden. It is an easy (and very scenic) drive on State Highway 1 from the north or south.
Coming from the North – Oamaru to Moeraki
The Boulders are about 40km (approx 30 minutes drive) south of Oamaru – along a stunning scenic road! Just follow State Highway 1 towards Hampden.
Coming from the South – Dunedin to Moeraki
The boulders are an approximately 1 hour drive (75km) north of Dunedin up State Highway 1.