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The community inspired Vanished World Society was established in the early 2000's to help raise public awareness about the geology of the Waitaki district. The Society is active in promoting the science, conservation and suitable and proper use of fossils, outcrops, and landforms, through a concept of education, science-communication and “hands on experience”.

North Otago and the larger surrounding Waitaki District have been well-known for striking and informative features for more than 150 years. These features including fossils, landforms, volcanic sequences and limestone – have been significant in the conceptual origins and ongoing development of geological science at a national level.

Geologist from the University of Otago have developed a positive and ongoing relationship with landowners in the Waitaki District, as part of a research program on local fossils. 

Vanished World has gained significant technical support and specialist display materials from the University of Otago. The Fossil Centre at Duntroon and the Vanished World Trail, with its freely accessible set of locations, has provided the Society with the tools to engage the Waitaki community and visitors with the geology of our region.

People observing fascinating fossil outcrop

The Centre in Duntroon houses an inspiring collection of fossils detailing the geology of the District. The display has been put together under the supervision and assistance of Professor Ewan Fordyce of the Geology Department of the University of Otago with the aim of educating visitors (children and adults) about the unique geology of the District.  


It contains many significant and unique fossils found in the area and is a mix of original fossils and casts of fossils held at the University of Otago Geology Museum or on loan to Otago Museum. These are accompanied by interpretation panels and there are supporting videos showing the actual extraction of fossils from their surroundings.


School visits are a regular occurrence at the Centre and teachers are given the option of a guided tour of the trail and/or time in the Centre at Duntroon. There are many opportunities for them to learn about rocks, fossils, New Zealand geology, crystals, rattling rocks, view diatoms through a microscope, learn about the more recent moa history, put jigsaw puzzles together, do quizzes and much more. The Centre has a fossil extraction room that allows kids to gain a first “hands-on experience” of fossils. They can dig their own fossil and receive a Junior Palaeontologist certificate.  

Vanished World is working with North Otago schools to develop a school camp programme which will also attract schools from neighbouring districts to plan their annual school camps around activities within the Geopark.


Group of kis learning about limestone of Elephant Rocks

Vanished World has set up a self-guided trail system currently accessible within Waitaki District. It composed of sites with Geological or Geomorphological significance spanning from Moeraki to Oamaru and extending inland through the Waitaki Valley. 

More than 20 sites related to landforms distinctive rocks, minerals and fossils which compose the Vanished World Trail.


Interpretation display panels at each of the main trail sites explain the meaning of the site and its relevance to the geology of the district.  Other sites are marked with ‘Heritage Trail’ signage and ‘finger’ pointers which lead visitors along the self-guided Trail.

For more information visit their website or email 

Latitude: -44.855021 Longitude:

Easy building access

Public Toilets

Pub & Cafe next door



The Vanished World Centre is in the village of Duntroon, which is located on State Highway 83, between Oamaru and Omarama.

important information


Currently Open 7 days a week. Open Hours:  10:00am - 4:30pm

Address: Duntroon State Highway 83, 9494 New Zealand


Parking out the front

Head Fossil
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