Huge marble-like boulders are just about the last thing you’d expect to see on a windswept beach. But there they are, on the North Otago coastline some 40 kilometers south of Oamaru, sitting in the sand like enormous eggs.

Labeling them one of the world’s ‘best rock formations’, the writers of the recent Lonely Planet’s 1000 Ultimate Sights book suggested that the Moeraki Boulders ‘might easily be mistaken as a bowling alley for the gods.’

According to Maori legend, the Moeraki Boulders are the remains of calabashes, kumaras and eel baskets that washed ashore after the Arai Te Uru, a legendary canoe that came from the distant Hawaiki, was wreaked at nearby Shag Point.

Of course, scientists have a much more mundane explanation for these boulders.  According to them, the almost perfectly spherical boulders, which were formed over 60 million years ago, are simply the result of concretion and erosion over time.

Some are perfectly preserved while others appear to have cracked open like an egg to reveal a strange, orangey crystalline mantle with a completely hollow core.


Although there’s no evidence of it, you can almost imagine that when they cracked, a huge bird or dinosaur crawled out.


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Liz Lewis is a New Zealand based writer who favors wine tasting and food markets over bungy jumping and mountain climbing.

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