Walk amongst geological marvels, exposed by the erosion of surrounding mudstone laid down around 60 million years ago.
Local Māori oral history explain these strangely large and spherical boulders as the remains of eel baskets, calabashes,
and kumara washed ashore from the wreck of Arai-te-uru, a large sailing canoe. The rocky shoals that extend seaward from Matakaea Shag Point are the petrified hull of this wreck and a nearby rocky headland is the body of the canoe's captain.
The Moeraki Boulders are a famous attractive destination for a reason. These striking round rocks can reach up to 3 metres in diameter and weigh several tones whilst the smaller boulders can resemble an over inflated football. These boulders have formed backdrops to photographs for over a century. Beyond the immediate visual appeal is a fascinating geological story.
The boulders at Moeraki and Matakaea Shag Point formed on ancient seafloor between 55 and 70 million years ago. Each boulder started life as a pebble or fossil on an ancient seafloor. Over time these 'grew' by mud accretion and calcification. These boulders have been exposed through coastline erosion from coastal cliffs. Even today, there are still boulders remaining in the mudstone that will, sooner or later, fall on to the beach as they come loose due to erosion!
Latitude: -45:20:50.824 Longitude: 170:49:33.972
Scenic views & Photo opportunities
Moeraki Boulders are signposted on SH1 3 km south of Hampden.
Stroll along the beach from Moeraki Boulders Scenic Reserve carpark and picnic area.
Alternatively, take the track directly to the beach from the cafe at the end of a private road. Or take a short loop track (150 metres) from the cafe to view the boulders from above. These tracks are suitable for pushchairs but not wheelchairs, as they start with several steps.
The Moeraki Boulders Cafe offers takeaway or sit down meals
Good to know
Early in the morning is a good time to visit as can get crowded later in the day. It can also be the best time to photograph the boulders as the light from the sunrise hits these striking formations