Teacher Resources


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. Available resources: - Activity sheet with fun facts about Gondwana and continents to colour in and cut out to fit back together VIEW

Waitaki Wonderland

The Waitaki Wonderland is full of fabulous places and creatures. Available resources: - Colouring in sheet - Information on Plesiosaur, Moeraki Boulders, Elephant Rocks, local fossils, Clay Cliffs, Waitaki River, moa, haast's eagle, little blue penguin - Word search - Matching game - Crossword (easy and hard) VIEW


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! Available resources: - Colouring in sheet - Information on Kaiwhekea katiki Plesiosaur, found at Shag Point VIEW


Learn all about volcanoes and our local (ancient) ones. Available resources: - Video "How to make your own volcano" - Activity sheets to colour in and label a volcano - Information on volcanous in our Park VIEW

Rock Identification

Rock detectives in our own backyards - what can we find and what rocks are they? Available resources: - Five mystery rock activity sheets and solution - Activity Sheet of "How to identify a Rock" - Activity sheet for own rock identification observations VIEW

Rock type: Igneous

Igneous Rocks are created by magma. Magma is melted rock from deep in the earths crust. There are two main igneous rock types. They are formed differently as follows: 1) If the magma is erupted from a volcano it is called lava. The type of rock formed by volcanoes is called volcanic igneous rock. Volcanic igneous rock is finer grained because the rock has cooled at a faster rate than Plutonic igneous rock (see the next paragraph). 2) If the magma cools deep in the earth’s crust the type of rocks formed is Plutonic igneous rock. Plutonic igneous rock have coarse crystals in them because the rock has cooled very slowly and allowed the crystals time to ‘grow’. We have many examples of volcanic igneous rock in the Waitaki Whitestone Geopark. Check out the volcano activity sheets here.

Rock type: Sedimentary

Sedimentary rocks are formed when: 1) Igneous, metamorphic or older sedimentary rocks are weathered and eroded. Material is transported and compacted (squashed) to form a rock. Examples of these types of sedimentary rocks are: sandstones and conglomerates 2) Fossils living in the water die and fall to the seafloor, they accumulate and are compacted. An example of this type of sedimentary rock is: limestone Sedimentary rocks can be terrestrial (i.e. deposited in rivers and lakes) or marine (deposited in the sea). Many types of sedimentary rocks contain fossils. Fossils can reveal to us interesting information – for example the environment they were deposited in, and geological age of the sediment. We have many examples of sedimentary rock in the Waitaki Whitestone Geopark. Activity sheets coming soon!

Rock type: Metamorphic

Metamorphic rocks are those rocks that have been changed under heat and pressure (this process is called metamorphism). The rocks may start out as sediments, igneous or even other metamorphic rocks and then be changed into new metamorphic rocks! Depending on the amount of heat, pressure and time the rock has been exposed to depends on what kind of minerals form and, also the type of rock that is formed. We have examples of metamorphic rock in the Waitaki Whitestone Geopark. Activity sheets coming soon.

Geological Time Scale

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. On our local 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 orderthat these events happened in. Available resources: - How do we measure the age of somehting? - How do geologists and palaeontologists work out how old rocks are? - Geological Time Scale VIEW

The geological story of Oamaru

From an underwater volcano to limestone and an ancient giant penguin. Learn more about the geological story of Oamaru. Available resources: - Activity sheet with short explanations and fun tasks along the way VIEW


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... Available resources: - Video: The story of the Waitaki Diatom - Activity sheet with diatoms to colour in and arrange on a microscope slide VIEW


Field Trip guides by Geoscience Society of New Zealand

GSNZ fieldguides have been converted to pdf format and are posted here for ready reference. Such guides often contain useful syntheses of information that may not be published elsewhere. Proper citation is encouraged and, where appropriate, users should contact the authors for permission to cite material. It is the responsibility of individuals to familiarise themselves with hazards and safety requirements on any fieldtrip, and also to obtain appropriate permission to enter property (possession of a guide confers no privilege or exemption!). VIEW

Zealandia: Earth's hidden continent

A 4.9 Mkm2 region of the southwest Pacific Ocean is made up of continental crust. The region has elevated bathymetry relative to surrounding oceanic crust, diverse and silica-rich rocks, and relatively thick and low-velocity crustal structure. Its isolation from Australia and large area support its definition as a continent—Zealandia. Zealandia was formerly part of Gondwana. Today it is 94% submerged, mainly as a result of widespread Late Cretaceous crustal thinning preceding supercontinent breakup and consequent isostatic balance. The identification of Zealandia as a geological continent, rather than a collection of continental islands, fragments, and slices, more correctly represents the geology of this part of Earth. Zealandia provides a fresh context in which to investigate processes of continental rifting, thinning, and breakup. VIEW

Investigating the eruptive processes of shallow-marine volcanoes on the Oligocene continental shelf, east Otago, New Zealand by Benjamin Moorhouse

The North Otago region of the South Island of New Zealand is well known for its volcanic deposits, including, the Boatmans Harbour Pillow Lava and the Kakanui Mineral Breccia which have had notable interest from geologists since the late 1800’s. VIEW

E Tūhura - Explore Zealandia

A portal for geoscience webmaps and information on the Te Riu-a-Māui / Zealandia region.

Geogastronomy in the Waitaki Whitestone aspiring Geopark: A snapshot of sector perspectives on opportunities and challenges

By Helen Fitt Abstract: The Waitaki Whitestone Geopark aspires to be New Zealand’s first UNESCO Global Geopark. Many Geoparks around the world include ‘geotrails’ that integrate the different attractions and activities in an area. The proposed Waitaki Whitestone Geopark has been focusing on establishing a ‘Geogastronomy trail’ that will invite visitors to engage with the Geopark through experiencing its food and drink. This research sought to explore the perspectives of stakeholders on the proposed Geopark and its associated geogastronomy trail. This document primarily reports on the data collected through 17 interviews with 20 representatives of the Waitaki geogastronomy sector.

Marketing Collateral

Introduction to the Waitaki Whitestone Geopark

Welcome to the Waitaki, formed under an ancient sea and built on the remains of prehistoric creatures from a vanished world. We are connecting people to the 80 million year long story of Waitaki and wider Aotearoa New Zealand. Trifold-Brochure

Our Story

Our story begins with Gondwana a southern supercontinent that broke apart into new lands near the end of the age of dinosaurs. One of these fragments was Zealandia - 'the 8th continent' and the foundation of modern Aotearoa New Zealand Read the whole story here.

Geogastronomy Magazine

Read the Geogastronomy magazine and get inspired by our fabulous local producers and restaurants. Issue 01 / May 2019

Our UNESCO Application


Main application and summary document of all that the Waitaki Whitestone aspiring Global Geopark stands for. VIEW

Annex 1: Self evaluation

This stand-alone Self Evaluation document for the Waitaki Whitestone Aspiring Global Geopark includes the spreadsheet tabs provided in the UNESCO Self Evaluation template, plus supporting evidence where requested. Included here is the supporting evidence requested as per the comments in red type in the spreadsheet tabs. References are provided to the lines on each spreadsheet tab. VIEW

Annex 2: Geological heritage and conservation

Bordered by the Southern Alps to the west, the braided Waitaki River to the north, and spectacular sea cliffs on the eastern coast, Waitaki’s diverse geology preserves key components of Zealandia’s geologic history. Jurassic basement rocks record terrane accretion at the Gondwana margin, while the overlying sedimentary sequences document submergence of Zealandia below sea level during the Paleogene period after rifting from the Gondwana supercontinent. The changes in plate configuration, ocean circulation, and climate that occurred during this turning point in Earth’s history are recorded in these sedimentary units, including fossilised remnants of the marine life that diversified during this time. Mountains, active faults and braided rivers are evidence of active deformation along the AustralianPacific plate boundary, uplifting the ancient seafloor above sea level. Geological research in this region has been critical to our understanding of the evolution of modern cetaceans, the eruption dynamics of submarine volcanoes, and the nature of the lithospheric mantle. VIEW

Annex 3: Endorsements

This Annex contains a supporting letter from the New Zealand UNESCO commission as well as explicit endorsements from national, regional and local authorities, including government departments and regional councils. Also included are endorsements from partners and supporting organisations, Mayors of neighbouring districts and Waitaki businesses and associations. VIEW

Annex 4: Map

Full map with marked Geosites and other aspects. VIEW

Annex 5: Geographical and geological summary

Summary of geographical location and geological significance. VIEW

Annex 6: Bibliography

The following is a selective bibliography highlighting international, historically important and/or widely cited publications. A complete bibliography of Earth Science research undertaken within the Geopark boundaries is available on our website. VIEW

Annex 7: Our Story

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

Annex 8: Site Details

This supplementary Annex contains more detailed information about each of the Waitaki Whitestone Aspiring Global Geopark geosites. Here we have also included sites that we assessed as containing geological features that support our geosites and help tell our Geopark story. More information about our site assesment process can be found in Annex 9. VIEW

Annex 9: Site Assessment

The Waitaki Whitestone Aspiring Global Geopark is fortunate to have 42 unique geosites that offer diversity in site types and visitor experience. It is crucial for the management and strategic plans of the Geopark that we have high quality information at hand about the sites, their geological features, visitor facilities, protection, access, cultural and natural heritage associations and educational opportunities. This supplementary Annex contains some of the information collected on visits to these sites and an example of a Site Assessment Report. VIEW

Annex 10: Interpretation Plan

Interpretation is about how our Geopark communicates with our visitors. It is about how we tell our stories and how we share our passion for the significant and special aspects of our Geopark. It enriches the experience of our visitors. It is one way we share with visitors our vision and goals. VIEW


Valley of the Whales by Bill Morris

The North Otago limestone country holds one of the world’s most important fossil cetacean records, a coherent story of how whales and dolphins evolved in the Southern Ocean. It’s a story that one small rural community has embraced as its own. VIEW

Waitaki: Water of tears, river of power by Simon Bloomberg

In an age when rivers are managed to satisfy the competing demands of dozens of users, the raw power of a mighty river such as the Waitaki is rarely seen. Draining the central mountains of the South Island from Mt Cook National Park south to the Lindis Pass, the waters of the Waitaki—”water of tears”—now churn the turbines of a bevy of power stations before being siphoned off to irrigate dry plains closer to the coast. Here, 1000 cubic metres of water a second thunder across the spillway of Lake Benmore hydro station. VIEW

Glorious Diatoms by John Hurrell

What is particularly fascinating about this international craze for slide acquisition was the importance of Oamaru with its rare access to diatomite, a type of geological deposit 35 million years old packed with a vast variety of microscopic silica skeletons from various undersea organisms.


What is a Significant Natural Area?

Max Crowe, Biodiversity Advisor for Waitaki District Council, explains what is a Significant Natural Area in the District Plan Review. VIEW

How the Earths works

Continents move. Glacial cycles come and go. Mountains spring up and erode away. We live on a planet that is constantly in motion-except we see it in extreme slow motion. In this exciting course of 48 half-hour lectures, you effectively speed up the action to witness the history of our planet unfold in spectacular detail, learning what the Earth is made of, where it came from, and, above all, how it works. VIEW

The missing continent it took 375 years to find

It took scientists 375 years to discover the eighth continent of the world, which has been hiding in plain sight all along. But mysteries still remain. VIEW

Hills of Promise by Stephanie Chamberlin

From Moeraki to Karitane, and inland to the edge of the Maniototo, East Otago is a seldom-traversed province where the rich legacy of whaling and gold persists. Today, mining and agriculture shape the fortunes of this land of rolling hills and rose-gold beaches. VIEW


Chair Helen Jansen explains the Geopark

Helen Jansen was on Real Radio 104 and talked about what a Geopark is and its great opportunities for the community. VIEW

Coordinator Lisa Heinz talks about the Geopark App

Lisa Heinz was on Real Radio 104 and talked about the Geopark App, which is designed to guide you to the cultural, geological and natural highlights of our Park. VIEW

Amelia Wills Entry to Fair Go Awards

Here is the winner of The Waitaki Whitestone Geopark Fair Go Kids Ad Awards competition! Well done Amelia! VIEW

The story of the Waitaki Diatom

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... VIEW

How to make your own volcano

Our Geoeducator Sasha shows you how to make your own volcano!

Public talks

16 July 2020: From Zealandia to Oamaru

The Waitaki Whitestone Geopark Trust was delighted to bring Brian Miller to Ōamaru as our first speaker in the public talk series 2020. From Zealandia to Ōamaru will look at what a Geopark is and why the Waitaki district is so special. Further Brian will touch on the formation of New Zealand and the discovery of Zealandia, the 8th continent, and how an undersea volcano created the Victorian town of Ōamaru. Brian Miller BSc Geology (a writer, publisher and photographer), spent 13 years in Papua New Guinea training science teachers and publishing educational books. He then spent over 20 years traveling around South Island schools running 'Tapui Children's Books'. Brian has written 10 books including the top-selling 'Otago Central Rail Trail' and 'Alps 2 Ocean' pocket books and 'Digital Cameras the Easy Way'. Watch the video here:

17 September 2020: Oamaru's little blue pengiun

Our public talk series continued with Dr Philippa Agnew joining us on the 17 September live on our Facebook page. 'Oamaru's little blue penguin. From trespasser to icon' looked at the thriving little blue penguins, after first being excluded from the Oamaru Harbour quarry, and how they are protected and monitored at the Colony. Philippa has worked at the Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony for almost 14 years, in a role that is research and environment focused. Her PhD work examined the foraging behaviour of the penguins, and this research is ongoing. Prior to working at the Colony, she worked at the Royal Albatross Centre and carried out a Master’s degree studying the little blue penguins at Taiaroa Head. Watch the video here

15 October 2020: Visit Gondwana - without leaving home

Our public talk series continued with David Barrell joining us on the 15 October at the Oamaru library. 'Visit Gondwana - without leaving home' looked at New Zealand’s geological origins, which go back more than 200 million years, to when it was part of the Gondwana supercontinent. The familiar greywacke rock of the Waitaki area was formed in Gondwana, and is being recycled into new geological deposits. Learn about the rich geological history preserved in the Waitaki area, in a journey from Gondwana to today. David is a senior scientist with GNS Science, a government-owned earth science research institute. He has worked on the geology and landforms of the Waitaki District for over 25 years. He has applied his knowledge to various scientific issues, including understanding climate history, active tectonics, geological hazards and groundwater resources. David has also contributed to the Geopark's UNESCO application, with a focus on the general geological description. Watch the video here

19 November 2020: Ki Uta Ki Tai - Everything is connected

Our public talk series wrapped up for 2020 with Gareth Boyt joining us on the 19 November at the Oamaru Library. 'Ki Uta Ki Tai - Everything is connected' looked at our unique species and their connection to the Geopark, interactions within ecosystems, traditional ecological knowledge and how understanding the past will help us to deal with the future! Gareth recently joined the Waitaki District Council team as Biodiversity Advisor. He has a background in conservation, ecosystem monitoring and education with the Whare Wānanga framework and a passion for sustainable land management and healthy ecosystems. He lives on a small farm at Waianakarua with his wife and 1 year old son, where they grow flowers, vegetables and trees. He has a major interest in alternative forms of looking after our land (as opposed to the current “utilisation” of land), celestial observation and sees a bright future for our unique biodiversity through systems of incorporation and understanding rather than the current situation of segregation. Everything is connected... Watch the video here:

18 March 2021: Exploring Continent Eight

Our public talk series continued with Nick Mortimer joining us on 18 March at the Oamaru Library. In this illustrated talk, Nick will described the various satellite and ship tools that are used to explore the seafloor and obtain undersea rocks. He also explained how the big continental picture was assembled from many details, and gave insights into the making of new maps of Zealandia. Nick Mortimer is a geologist at GNS Science's Dunedin office. He has worked on many aspects of onland and offshore regional geology and tectonics of New Zealand, Zealandia and the South West Pacific. Watch the video here: TO BE UPLOADED SOON

15 April 2021: Limestone Ecostystems

Our public talk series continued with Dr. Clement Lagrue joining us on 15 April at the Oamaru Library. 'Limestone ecosystems - Unique ecological values yet overlooked and endangered' will give you a background on limestone ecosystems and their ecological and cultural values. Clement also discussed past and current threats on these systems and introduced conservation / management work and research projects to help management. Clement is a DOC Science Advisor based in Dunedin. He leads projects around naturally rare and threatened ecosystems, including limestone, and how to best manage and restore these small but special ecosystems. He has 15 years of academic background in freshwater ecology and parasitology studies. French by birth but kiwi at heart and Dunedin local since 2005. Watch the video here:

20 May 2021: A Social History from Ototara

Our public talk series continued with Keren Mackay joining us on 20 May 2021 at the Ōamaru Library. Learn more about a limestone cave, a Totara tree and some surprising stories of those who have passed this way. Keren Mackay grew up on a small farm bordered by the Kaipara River in rural Auckland. After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in English and History she worked as a Librarian for a number of years, raised a family and made a garden. A move southwards makes her now a committed Otago girl and delighted to working in Heritage and making another garden. She now helps to look after Totara Estate and Clarks Mill as Kaiārāhi Āhuatanga Ōkiko or Property Lead where she continues to learn of the Tapuwae – of the sacred footprints of others who have walked this place. Watch the video here:

17 June 2021: A 'Vanished World' Rediscovered

Our public talk series continued with Mike Gray joining us on 17 June 2021 at the Ōamaru Library. Learn more about a farming community that treasures its limestone landforms, the unique treasures within and the stories passionately shared with visitors. Mike fell in love with this district when he purchased a piece of local history, the Tokarahi Homestead. He and his wife Lyn restored it to its previous Victorian splendour. They were quickly adopted by the local community and soon became involved with a variety of local initiatives aimed at reversing rural decline, preserving local assets and growing tourism along the Waitaki Valley. Watch the video here:

15 July 2021: Waitaki Valley - A Paleontologist's Paradise

Our public talk series continued with Henry Gard joining us on 15 July 2021 at the Ōamaru Library. Learn more about some of the amazing fossil discoveries that have been made in the Waitaki Valley and hear about the paleontological significance of some of the geopark's sites. Henry Gard is a Senior Laboratory and Collection Technician with GNS Science, a government-owned earth science research institute. His key roles there are preparing microfossils and curating part of the National Paleontology Collection. He grew up in Duntroon, a small town in the Waitaki Valley and studied geology and paleontology at the University of Otago. Henry also works on fossil mollusc shells. Watch the video here:

21 October 2021: A Marriage of Science & Art

Our public talk series continued with Marcus Richards and Manu Berry joining on 21 October 2021 at the Ōamaru Opera House. An artist with a vivid imagination looks through a scientist's lens at the earth. He meets deep time and the wondrous complexity of evolution. And it all leads to penguins! Marcus Richards is a paleontologist at the University of Otago with a passion for science communication. When he and artist Manu Berry met they realised that they shared a fascination for the history of life and a desire to share their awe with others. Marcus conveyed his passion for studying the evolutionary history of penguins, a story closely tied to New Zealand’s fossil record. This event was part of the Waitaki Arts Festival. Watch the video here:

16 September 2021: Ko Puketapu te mauka - Southern Gateway to the Geopark

Our public talk series continued with the Puketapu Community Trust joining us on 16 September 2021 at the Scottish Hall. Learn more about the Waihemo ward of the Waitaki District, and the projects the Puketapu Community Trust is working on to realise the potential of the area’s natural and man-made assets. The Puketapu Community Trust has eight trustees and several advisers. We aim to improve living in this community by: - re-invigorating neglected activities and cultural infrastructure - preserving and promoting the best features of Waihemo to develop community pride - improving the visitor experience — for more than a “pee and a pie”. We hope to achieve this by creating a future in which everyone benefits from our bi-cultural inheritance. Video will be available soon.

25 November 2021: Macraes - A history from the start of time

Our public talk series wrapped up for 2021 with Amber Daniels joining us on 25 November at the Scottish Hall. Learn more about the geology of the gold bearing rock, the gold rush history at Macraes and the mining process at today's gold mine in Macraes. A presentation by Amber Daniels: Amber is one of two senior mine geologists in the open pit team at OceanaGold in Macraes. The key components of a production geologist is to define the boundaries between the gold bearing rock and the waste rock. Amber had always enjoyed being outside so she decided on a geology degree at the University of Otago in Dunedin, where she grew up. OceanaGold Macraes became the Founding Partner of the Waitaki Whitestone Geopark in the beginning of 2019. Their sponsorship primarily supports community engagement and education by Sasha Morriss, our geoeducator. SHOW LESS Watch the video here:

Citizen Science


Your observations can help scientists and resource managers understand where and when organisms occur. Log your observations with iNaturalist and contribute to scientific data repositories, or connect with experts who can help you identify the organisms you observe.

Geonet Felt Earthquake Reports

Did you feel an earthquake? Log a ‘Felt It’ report with Geonet. By logging the intensity of the shaking you experienced, you can help GeoNet understand the extent of ground shaking and damage resulting from a particular earthquake. It only takes about 30 seconds! Visit GeoNet online, or log your observations and view recent earthquakes in New Zealand on the GeoNet app for iOS or Android.

Department of Conservation Marine Mammal Sightings

Use the online form to report a marine mammal sighting and help to inform the development of protection measures for marine habitats.

Department of Conservation Amphibian and Reptile Distribution Scheme

Record your sightings of amphibians and reptiles using the card available online, and contribute to our understanding of the distribution of species, identifying un-defined species, monitoring introduced species, and preventing the spread of new, accidentally introduced species.

New Zealand Plant Conservation Network Phenology Recording System

Record observations of phenology—plant and animal life cycle events—and help to better understand how these are influenced by variations in climate.

NIWA How Deep is the Snow at Your Place?

Measure the depth of the snow and report it online to help NIWA map snowfall at low elevations, important for monitoring water resources and snow-related risks.