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kids corner

We’re helping to educate and inspire the next generation of earth-conscious citizens.

A fun collection of freely accessible things to do for kids. With every colouring in page or game, we are providing fun, kids-friendly explanations related to Waitaki and our part of the world. This is for you, Waitaki families!

Remember we welcome feedback, and if there are topics you would like to see us to cover please do let us know!

Email us and we do our best to make it work! 

Prehistoric scene


Waitaki Wonderland
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What do we see here? 

70 million years ago - Plesiosaur

60 million years ago - Te Kaihīnaki / Moeraki Boulders

25 million years ago - Elephant Rocks

Local fossils

Clay Cliffs

Waitaki River


Haast's Eagle

Korora / Little Blue Penguin

Other fun things in the Waitaki Wonderland


How fast can you find all the words hidden on the page? Words can be found going forwards, down or diagonally. 

Check your results with the answers on page 2.



Do you know how Moas, Plesiosaurs or the Moeraki Boulders look like? Then try and match the word to the photo. 

Check your results with the answers on page 2.


Want to test your knowledge of the Waitaki Wonderland?


We have prepared a crossword to test your knowledge of the Waitaki Wonderland! This is how it works: 


  • Read the short descriptions at the bottom of the page and test whether you know what element is meant

  • Fill in the letters in the crossword

  • If you need help, read through the descriptions above again. All information can be found there 

  • Hint: All words in the crossword are within the Waitaki Wonderland Colouring in page

  • Double check your results with the answers on page 2

EASY Crossword

A few letters are already filled in to help you with this challenge.

HARD Crossword

Don't need help? Try the hard version with a totally blank crossword.


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A seven-metre-long plesiosaur was found in a massive concretion
(boulder made of hardened mudstone) at Matakaea/Shag Point and is 70 million years old!



1) Make your own volcano


You will need:

  • Baking soda

  • Food colouring

  • Dishwashing liquid

  • White vinegar 

  • Container

  • An adult to supervise

  • Dinosaurs and other props to make a prehistoric scene are fun added extras!

Have you seen our volcano made out of a small road cone, chicken wire and paper mache? Check it out here and make your own with our 'Volcano Recipe'. 

2) Colour in and label a volcano

There are different types of volcanoes and each behaves in a different way.  Volcanoes make igneous rock (of the three main rock types being - metamorphic, sedimentary and igneous). Magma from deep in the earth’s crust is erupted at the surface forming a volcano. The material that is erupted is called lava. Some volcanoes also erupt other material such as ash (which forms tuff), and rock. 

See if you can correctly label the different parts of a volcano – you may need to read the text below for some help!

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3) Volcanoes in our Waitaki Whitestone Geopark

Did you know there are volcanoes in the Waitaki Whitestone Geopark? Find out more here.

Two distinct volcanoes: Cape Wanbrow and Puketapu

Dike and Sill

Other volcanic Geosites in our Geopark

Volcanic rock uses


Rock knowledge

Identify the 5 mystery rocks that Sasha, our geoeducator, found in her backyard!

How it works: Click on the photo of the mystery rock and a table with a whole heap of information about the rock will open. Read through all 9 categories and see whether you can identify the rock. Check your result on page 2!

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Mystery Rock A

Mystery Rock B

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Mystery Rock D

Mystery Rock C

Mystery Rock E

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mystery rock d.jpg
mystery rock e.jpg

Now its your turn to become a rock detective in your own backyard! Read through and print out the tables below and see whether you can identify some of the rocks in your garden.

Some rocks are familiar to us and it is easier to work out what they are (identify).  Other rocks are not familiar to us and we must work out what they are.  This is when we ask ourselves questions and use our super observation skills. 

Some observations you may like to make when you find a rock are listed in the table below. See if you can answer the questions for the next rock you find!  You could even print this table out so you can refer to it again and again!

If you would like help identifying rocks in your backyard you can email your observations to us at and we will try to help you…and a photo always helps!


Become a rock detective

How to identify a rock

My rock identification observations



Our story begins with Gondwana, a southern supercontinent that broke apart into new lands before the extinction of dinosaurs. One of these fragments was Zealandia - 'the 8th continent' and the foundation of modern New Zealand. 


Download our Gondwana colouring in puzzle to learn more fun facts about the southern supercontinent. You can print this page out and have a go at colouring in the continents that made up Gondwana. Cut them out and try fitting them back together!


Time scale

What is old?

What do you think is old?  Maybe you think your bike is old, maybe your computer (if you’re lucky enough to have one!).  Maybe you think the trees at the Oamaru gardens are old.  How about your school…is that old? 

How to measure the age of something?

How do you measure how old something is? Is it that older things are taller, rusty, worn out? Or maybe old things are treasures? We measure how old people are by the number of birthdays they have. We measure how old a town is by the number of years since people have lived there. People are very good at recording history and knowing how old things are.  

The Earth

Now, think about the earth…how old do you think that might be?  People weren’t around at the beginning of the earth so no one knows for certain…however scientists tell us the world is very very old.  In fact the earth is so old they had to come up with an entirely new way to measure it.  It is called the Geological Time Scale.  The Geological Time Scale doesn’t show time in years…but rather millions of years!!!  The timescale is useful because we can put earths events into order and begin to make sense of them.  

The Geological Time Scale

The Geological Time Scale is drawn as a chart - much like a height chart you get measured against at the doctors.  However instead of a scale showing height like the doctors’ chart – the Geological time scale shows time.  The oldest is at the bottom and the youngest (present day) at the top.  

Extra information for the experts: This mimics the principle of superposition (where sediments are assumed to be deposited in order – oldest at the bottom followed by youngest at the top – forming a kind of record of time (bottom to top).  The principle of superposition does not take into account events that have happened after the sediments have been deposited that may mess this sequence up (for example deformation like faulting and folding).  Geologists working the field often have to “undo” this deformation to build up a picture of how the rocks in an area were formed. 

The Geological Time Scale helps us to connect rocks at different locations and build up a picture of what Zealandia looked like at different times in the past.  

How do Geologists and Palaeontologists work out how old rocks are?

Geologists and Palaeontologists study rocks and fossils. By using various dating methods they can determine how old a rock is.  

For example: 

  • Radiometric dating measures the amount of the decrease of certain elements within a rock (decay) – they use this to work out its age – this type of dating can only be used with certain types of rocks

  • Sometimes fossils are used to determine the age of a sediment or sedimentary rock (some fossils only lived for a narrow period of time and these are super useful for working out an age)

It is important to recognise that when we are considering millions of years there are margins of errors.  These errors can be millions of years.  

Let's see it!

The Geological time scale includes a lot of information – we have included a simplified version of it the the right.  

On this scale we have shown the age of features we have talked about in ‘kids corner’ plus a couple of other events of interest. We hope it helps to clarify the order that these events happened in. 

Remember – a scientist observes and questions things.  What observations and questions do you have about this time scale?

An observation may be: We think the last ice age was so long ago (in human years)…but in relation to events of the earth it was really very recent.

A question may be: When the Waitaki District was underwater 25 million years ago – what creatures were swimming around in the ocean?

When you ask a question it’s always interesting to see if you can find out the answer…maybe check out our ‘Kids Corner’ page to see if this holds any answers to questions you may have.  If not, send us an email – we’d love to hear from you!

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If you had to create your own prehistoric scene what would it look like? Would it include dinosaurs? Giant fairies? Plesiosaurs? 


Here's one way you can recreate your very own scene. Take whatever figures you can find at home. We used dinosaurs and an emperor penguin. You could even recreate a farm scene complete with tractors!


We traced around the shadows... you may like to then colour them in and recreate their surrounding environment. Would they have lived in swamps, a forest, a beautiful castle?? 


Email us your pictures at and we can share them on our website! Happy creating!

Prehistoric scene


Ōamaru Volcano
Around 40 million years ago, much of New Zealand was under the sea. Near Ōamaru, an underwater volcano started to erupt into the seafloor sediments. With each eruption the volcano grew bigger and bigger. Today we see the remains of this volcano – it is called Cape Wanbrow.

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Limestone buildings
Parkside Quarry in Weston is a working quarry where Ōamaru Stone is removed and sold. Limestone has many uses - including for building. Oamaru is famous for its limestone buildings – built during the Victorian Era (1800’s). Because the limestone is soft it can be carved into amazing decorative features!

Download our worksheet here. 

Around the same time, limestone was forming in the sea. This limestone (Ōamaru stone) was formed when sea life died and fell to the bottom of the sea floor. The remains were compacted (squished) and became harder. Marine (sea) fossils have been preserved within the limestone. Fossils are the bones and shells of creatures that lived and died at the time the limestone was forming.

Penguin Bones
The bones of a giant penguin have been found in the limestone (you can see these at Vanished World in Duntroon). This penguin is thought to be around 34 million years old, a bit shorter than an adult (but maybe as tall as you!) and weighing 60kg – that’s the weight of two dalmatian dogs!



Here in Waitaki, we are surrounded by beautiful hills and mountains, bordered on the east by the vast Pacific Ocean. Did you know that the Ocean has played a huge part in the formation of the coastal hills and plains? As people wander the streets of Oamaru, fascinated by the heritage and beautiful buildings, many are unaware they are surrounded by the fossil remains of ancient water creatures, the Diatom. So what is a diatom? Lets take a closer look...

1) Watch the 'Story of the Waitaki Diatom' video

2) Colour in diatoms and arrange them - just like Victorian scientists!

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Thirty-five million years ago, the Oamaru area was under the sea. Tiny algae living in the water (called diatoms) became preserved in sediment (called diatomite).

In the late 1800s, Victorian era scientists and enthusiasts would arrange diatoms and display them in beautiful arrangements that could only be seen under a microscope.



We found a whole heap of cool and fun activities for kids on other pages around the world. Here a collection of them:

Colouring in activity for Children: Cecil's colossal journey through time! Cecil, the mascot dinosaur of the Museum of the Earth, would like to take you and your family on a colossal journey through time!

3-D Paper Models: 3-D paper models (with accompanying Educator Guides) are a fun and interactive way to teach geologic concepts. 

Together at Home: New Zealand Geographic will post a story or video every day of the lock-down that can be shared among your family.

Activity books: Te Papa has a range of activity books that are designed for use at home or in the classroom. These are free to download.

Diatom colouring and activity pages: Diatoms are beautiful geometric shapes. Learn about them, colour them in and make your own diatom box.

Learning & Lesson Plans: GNS Science has a whole range of resources that will inspire you to appreciate the amazing story being uncovered by New Zealand geoscientists.

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