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. A4-Flyer 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.

Our logo

Do you know the story behind our logo? Every detail and every colour was chosen with great care to represent who we are and what makes us unique. From Māori rock art motifs, through Moeraki Boulders, alpine vistas, braided rivers and fossil Bryozoa & diatoms - they are all represented in the logo. Get a closer look at the diverse aspects 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


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:

Find Us On
  • Facebook
  • Instagram - White Circle
  • YouTube - White Circle
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
News &

"What a fantastic window into the past. Today we saw fossil bones in limestone at two different sites. One set were whale bones. Just awesome that this trail has been put together, maintained and promoted."

— Mark Shipman, 

Vanished World visitor