Bizarre Landscapes: Pancake Rocks, New Zealand

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Punakaiki is a major tourist attraction on the West Coast of the South Island of New Zealand. It is here where you will find the unique and natural attraction that is the Pancake Rocks.

The Pancake Rocks are a rock formation in the Paparoa National Park on the South Island, located about 40km north of Greymouth. The Pancake Rocks are found right on the Tasman Sea and its name originates from the rocks that look like pancakes stacked on top of each other.

pancake rocks, punakaiki

Pancake Rocks, Punakaiki, New Zealand

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Bizarre Landscapes: Moeraki Boulders in New Zealand

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If you go down to Koekohe Beach on the Otago coast in New Zealand you will see hundreds of huge boulders scattered around the beach like giant dragon eggs that are ready to hatch – if they ever existed! Each boulder weighs several tonnes. What you see here at Moeraki are called Moeraki Boulders, 40km south of Oamaru.

Moeraki Boulders, New Zealand

Moeraki Boulders, New Zealand

Moeraki Boulders inside

Moeraki Boulders inside

According to science these Moeraki Boulders were created about 65 Million years ago and is the result of 3 things: erosion, concretion and time. The Material responsible for the concretion is a carbonate mineral called calcite that occurs through crystallization of calcium and carbonates around charged particles gradually formed the boulders in a pearl-like process that took as long as four million years. The centre of the concretion is quite week and the outside is the hardest part, made of calcite. Some 15 million years ago they rose from the sea.

The Moeraki boulders are best seen at low tide and many of the Moeraki boulders give the impression of being completely spherical – many can reach a circumference of up to 4 meters(!) They can be seen emerging from cliffs or disappearing into the sands and sea.

As so often the Maoris have in their legends their own explanation for the creation of the Moeraki Boulders.

According to the Maori legend, the boulders stem from their ancestors voyaging canoe Araiteuru when it shipwrecked on the way to New Zealand some 1,000 years ago. Large storage tanks with gourds and calabashes were washed ashore, where they fossilized. In the language of the Maori the Moeraki Boulders are called te ka-hinaki (strorage baskets).

So what about these cracks and patterns on these boulders? These are known as septarian concretions, similar to the cracks displayed by septarian nodules. Each boulder is hollow in their core and the septaria radiate from the inside.

Moeraki Boulders Sunrise

Moeraki Boulders Sunrise

Similar spherical boulders have been discovered in Siberia as well as in China, Costa-Rica and even in Bosnia.

Moeraki on the South Island is a world famous destination for another reason. This charming fishing town is home to the yellow-eyed penguin sanctuary and a seal colony.