Insights into the ancient past
This location exposes a sequence of rocks that are around 32 - 36 million years old. At this time, Te Riu-a-Māui/Zealandia (the continent New Zealand is part of) was still slowly submerging under the sea following its separation from Gondwana. The base of the sequence of rock exposed at Hutcheson's Quarry is now overgrown but has been recorded and described in early geological sketches and photographs as tuff rock (hardened volcanic ash). Overlying this and exposed here are (1) layers of ash and limestone, overlain by (2) a bed of basaltic cobbles within limestone. During the Miocene Epoch, when the area was still under the sea, the Gee Greensand was deposited. This is exposed as a thin layer at the very top of this outcrop. This sequence of rocks has been an important time marker to correlate other outcrops of similar age.
First people to Ōamaru
Ōamaru is the traditional name of the stream and associated wetlands that were once prominent within this area and was part of the extensive network of kāika nohoaka (settlements) and kāika mahika kai (food-gathering places) located along Te Tai o Araiteuru (the Otago coastline). Rāwiri Te Māmaru, a prominent Kāi Tahu kaumātua recorded Ōamaru as a pā tūturu (defensible village) and a kāika mahika kai where tuna (eels), īnaka (whitebait) and kōareare (edible root of raupō) were gathered.
Sequence of rocks exposed at Hutcheson's Quarry
A quarry to serve a lime kiln
Between 1860 and 1870 David Hutcheson (1826-1882) operated a limestone quarry as well as a lime kiln at this site. A lime kiln is a structure that burns limestone, at temperatures of around 1000°C to produce quicklime. When mixed with water, quicklime becomes slaked lime and is the basis for lime mortar (an early form of cement). Hutcheson's operation here would have provided quicklime and mortar to bind together blocks of Ōamaru Stone in the construction of the buildings in the nearby Victorian Precinct and beyond.
The quarry has also been known under the name Hutchinsons Quarry. It is not uncommon to find people with differently spelled versions of their surname. Some people changed them on arrival in New Zealand or others to distinguish themselves from others with the same surname. While Hutchison and Hutchinson also occur in papers from the time and later books on local history, it is David Hutcheson (1826-1882) how he signed his name is his will.
Please be aware the following hazards include: waterway, steps, unsealed walking track, and falling debris from overhang.
Volcanic activity from 36 to 32 million years ago produced the volcanic ash and basalt cobbles seen here.
Interpretation signs at the Ōamaru Penguin Colony and the Ōamaru Lookout Point describe other rocks produced by ancient local volcanic activity.
Hutcheson's Quarry is one of New Zealand's first geological reserves.
To get to Hutchesons Quarry, follow Eden St in for 500m from Thames Highway. There is parking available to the right. Walk into the Glen Warren Reserve and follow the path for a few hundred metres. The quarry will be to your right.
Protection and guardianship are at the heart of the Geopark philosophy. We ask you to treat this site with respect, do not remove anything from this site and preserve it for our future generations.