Travel Guide for Moeraki Boulders, New Zealand - New Zealand Purple Travel Guide
No, the Moeraki Boulders are not gigantic cannonballs and they are not rocks. We tell you what they are and how you can get to see them.
On Koekohe Beach near the town of Moeraki lies a group of large spherical boulders scattered either in small groups or all by themselves – the Moeraki Boulders.
Their diameters range from 1.6 ft (50 cm) to 7.2 ft (2.2 m) and they are mostly spherical but some are slightly elongated.
The boulders are actually not rocks, but are made of consist of mud, fine silt and clay, and are cemented by calcite. The outside is cemented/hardened the most and contains up to 20% calcite while the interior is weaker and contains less calcite. That’s why the cracked boulders appear hollow – because the interior has been eroded more.
The Moeraki Boulders started forming about 66-56 mio years ago from marine mud near the surface of the sea floor by the infusion of calcite. Over the next 4-5.5 million years they grew by incorporating more calcite while 33-164 ft (10-50 m) of marine mud accumulated above them and large cracks appeared in them. These cracks were subsequently filled by brown and yellow calcite, small amounts of dolomite and quartz when a drop in sea level allowed fresh groundwater to flow through the mudstone enclosing them.
Well, the Māori have a simpler explanation: According to legend, the boulders are the remains of eel baskets, calabashes, and kumara that washed ashore when the large sailing canoe Arai-te-uru wrecked at Shag Point (7 miles, 11km to the south).
What are now the rocky shoals that extend seaward from Shag Point is the petrified hull of this wreck and a nearby rocky promontory was the body of the canoe's captain.
The reticulated patterning on the Moeraki boulders are the remains of the canoe's fishing nets.
Park at the parking lot and then walk about 2,200 ft (670 m) on the beach to the north to get to the boulders. Alternatively, you can drive to the Moeraki Boulders Café, which is about halfway, to get some lunch first.
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