Welcome to the Waitaki – a window into the world of Zealandia, the world’s eighth continent - formed under an ancient sea and built on the remains of prehistoric creatures from a vanished world.

Shaped by volcanoes and glaciers, our district is bordered by the mighty Waitaki River, an early super-highway for New Zealand's first people who left traces of their lives along its banks. Written in the stone and in our land is the story of the Waitaki - a geological wonderland, steeped in culture and history and waiting to be explored.

Nau mai, haere mai tauati mai rā ki te rohe o Te Rūnanga o Moeraki


The park covers just over 7,200 square kilometres, the whole of the Waitaki District. At the heart of it all are spectacular areas of karst. Karst is landscape underlain by limestone which has been eroded by dissolution, producing ridges, towers, fissures, sinkholes and other characteristic landforms. 


The karst landscape and its ‘whitestone’ are integral to the identity of the Waitaki region. The first people to the area found shelter in limestone caves, leaving now-treasured rock art. Waitaki's largest town, Ōamaru, is renowned for fine limestone architecture. Today, the Vanished World Centre celebrates the wondrous fossils that emerge from the region’s whitestone. This is why our geopark is proudly named the Waitaki Whitestone Geopark.

The Waitaki Whitestone Geopark is currently an Aspiring Global Geopark, awaiting the evaluation by UNESCO. Learn more about our UNESCO journey. 

Graphic illustration of New Zealand highligtes Waitaki District

Waitaki Whitestone Geopark brochure

Our vision.jpg

Where we develop a generation of people who care for the planet and its people. This requires understanding the stories of our land, our sky and our ocean. 

Understand it. Appreciate it. Protect it for future generations. 

Our goals

  • Enhance Waitaki’s social identity and increase community pride by providing a unifying platform to share the stories of our land, rich culture and heritage.

  • Inspire locals and visitors to learn, discover and connect with the Waitaki Whitestone Geopark through educational programmes and by providing engaging experiences and activities, with a focus on youth.

  • Ensure key geological, cultural, heritage sites and assets are visibly part of the Geopark, well curated, accessible and protected.

  • Increase community well-being through holistic sustainable development supporting economic growth.