The Moeraki Boulders are well worth a repeat visit (or two or three) just because they appear so mystical and unusual, and we couldn't drive past without stopping. The local Maori tradition says that the boulders are the flotsam cast from the wreck of the voyaging canoe Arai-te-uru, which foundered while travelling south in search of greenstone. The boulders are a short drive from where we are staying, and always very popular with tourists. The car park was fairly full, and the beach was alive with people looking at, photographing and clambering over the boulders.
They are in fact known as septarian concretions, formed over millions of years on the sea floor. The seabed was uplifted to form coastal cliffs, which have eroded over time, and the boulders have tumbled onto the beach. There are big boulders, baby sized, some showing the various segments, and others which have split open.
We found one boulder half exposed in the bank, no doubt it will roll down onto the beach sooner or later when enough of the bank has been washed away.
Boulder partly exposed in the cliff
Then we drove to Shag Point as we had been told there could well be seals on the rocks. Aren’t they cute - the little one kept gazing up at us, just like a friendly puppy.
Seals at Shag Point
Fronds of bull kelp swirl around the coast and can grow to a length of 10m. In the 1970s bull kelp in this area was harvested, processed and dried and sent to Japan for sale.
Bull kelp growing on the cost at Shag Point
High on the hill overlooking the village was the Moeraki 150 Year Memorial Lookout. On this hill stood the lookout and signal mast of the whaling station founded by John Hughes and his party. The lookout had a sea view of 360 degrees.
We hadn’t yet finished exploring Moeraki and drove down the very rough and rutted Lighthouse Road to reach Katiki Point Lighthouse. The lighthouse was built after several accidents on the dangerous reefs and the light first shone from here on 22nd April 1878. The wooden tower stands 8m high and 58m above sea level, and the light can be seen for 10 nautical miles. The original lens operated with a 1000 watt lamp, but was fully automated in 1975 and the lighthouse keeper withdrawn from service.
Katiki Point Lighthouse
A brisk walk along the path of the Katiki Historic Reserve took us to the point. The sea was crashing onto the rocks, as we peered over, being aware of the signs to keep away from the unstable cliff edges.
Tiny beaches were dotted amongst the rocks, and we saw seals lifting their flippers as they played in the water. This one was sunning on the rocks and decided it was time to shuffle over to the water to cool off.
Back at camp we found out that we had more neighbours than we could shake a stick at! A rather large “Flying Kiwi” bus rumbled up the camp, parked in front of us and disgorged about 30 passengers. They busily set about putting their tents up and arranging their sleeping bags. Several woks cooking on gas rings on a drop down cabinet in the bus are now under way, cooking up a storm for the passengers evening meal. The camp owner told me that the bus returns every two weeks with another load of passengers, they pitch their tents on the grass, cook for themselves, and leave the following morning bright and early.
Our new neighbours