Moeraki Boulders, Coastal Otago, New Zealand

Scattered along the beach at Moeraki are large, round rocks. These rock formations are technically calcite concretions that formed 65 million years ago. A concretion is a hard, compact mass of sedimentary rock formed by the precipitation of mineral cement within the spaces between the sediment grains.

The pearl-like growing process of the Moeraki Boulders formed as a result of the crystallization of calcium and carbonates around charged particles in the muddy undersea sediments. This process took as long as four million years creating boulders weighing as much as seven tons and measuring over 2 meters across.

During the Miocene period, about 15 million years ago, the seabed uplifted higher than the sea level. Since that time, waves, wind and rain have been excavating the harder calcite concretions one by one.

Or you could buy into the Maori legend explaining the boulders presence as the remains of calabashes (bottle shaped gourds), kumaras (similar to sweet potatoes) and eel baskets that washed ashore after the legendary canoe, the Araiteuru was wrecked at nearby Shag Point (or Matakaea in Maori). In Maori, the name Moeraki (Moerangi) means “drowsy day”.

Either way, these boulders are pretty cool to explore. As we were walking along the beach to get to the boulders, we were fortunate enough to see a dolphin playing in the waves. It was a single dolphin jumping out through the water in the same direction as we were walking.

McKenzie looking for a foot hold in this rock.

McKenzie looking for a foot hold in this rock.

Riley happy with hunting for shells and McKenzie desperately seeking mussels.

Riley happy with hunting for shells and McKenzie desperately seeking mussels.

Oystercatcher, my favorite all time wading bird.

Oystercatcher, my favorite all time wading bird.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s