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Aussie's in New Zealand: Moeraki - 60 million year-old boulders

Aussie's in New Zealand: Moeraki - 60 million year-old boulders

October 2019 · 3 min read

About seventy five kilometres north of Dunedin in the Oamaru district lies a unique beach called Koekohe - Well, I guess the beach itself isn't all that unique however the spherical boulders found on the beach certainly are.

The boulders have been formed by the cementation of Paleocene mudstone and coastal erosion has exhumed them from the cliffs adjacent to the beach. It is estimated that the larger boulders, over 2 metres in diameter have taken between 4.5-5.5 million years to form, some 10-50 metres below the marine mud that accumulated above them on the seafloor. Once formed, septaria formed within them, large cracks, into which brown and yellow calcite, dolomite and quartz found its way.

Below you can see one of the boulders which is falling apart and the calcite and quartz inside. To the right you can see Faith standing in it to demonstrate it's size.

Below Faith is sitting on one of the boulders up near the cliff-face from which erosion has exposed it. This entire area would have been well under water when the boulders were forming some 60 million years ago and ver millions of years the marine mud has been worn away by the waves exposing these massive boulders.

I've included the images above to show the septaria I mention above, those cracks you see. It's into these fault lines where the quartz and calcite collect, and flow into the boulder during its formation and along these cracks where the boulder will eventually fracture and break apart as the second image above - Again, I've used Faith for size perspective.

I'm no photographer and don't know how to use Photoshop so I snapped these two postcards at the gift shop on the cliff above the beach. I think if someone with the right skills, here at the right time of day, would be able to get some great shots.

Whilst we were on the beach Faith went looking for shells and found these. She told me I "had to include them in my post" and so here they are. I don't know who lived in these shells but I hope they lived the best version of life they knew how and that they lived regret-free.

From Moeraki we drove to Oamaru which is a really interesting place. It's right on the beach and has nice little protected harbour. European settlement began in 1853 and the town centre grew to become a very impressive example of Victorian Architecture utilising limestone quarried locally. These buildings are now home to galleries, curiosity-shops, cafes and probably tone of he coolest exhibitions I've ever seen. I'll write about it later though - Stay tuned. We had some lunch and took a slow drive back to our accommodation to pack and get ready for our flight home.

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Tonight is our last night in New Zealand and we are heading to what we have been told is a very nice restaurant in Dunedin to sort of draw a line underneath the vacation, punctuate it as such. In the morning we're driving to Queenstown, around four hours away, to fly out to Australia.

Thanks for following along, I hope you've enjoyed it.

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