Moeraki Heritage Trail

Moeraki is a small fishing village on State Highway 1 about 80 kilometres north of Dunedin and 40 kilometres south of Oamaru. It is famous for the geological phenomenon known as the Moeraki Boulders, but is also important historically, both as a Maori settlement and as an early European whaling station.

Most visitors come to see the Boulders and leave it at that. This simple trail allows for an more extended exploration of the history and the views.

The trail starts at the Boulders. These are large spherical concretions lying along the beach, which look as if they have been washed up from the sea and rounded by the surf but are in fact formed by erosion from the mudstone cliffs behind. Maori legend has a different story, by which they have grown from the baskets of gourds and potatoes washed up from the wreck of the canoe Arai te Uru at nearby Shag Point.

From the beach the trail leads round the bay into the village, past the historic Kotahitanga Church which dates from 1862. The beautiful stained glass windows depict Christ, Mother and Child and an elderly Maori leader, Matiaha Tiramorehu, a local chief. It is believed that he was the only Maori so honoured during this period.

Also on the trail are Centenary Park, where there is information on the history of Moeraki; Whaler’s Lookout, from which there are magnificent views of the sea and coastline; and the Moeraki Lighthouse (1877) at Katiki Point, where there are seals and yellow-eyed penguins.

This was the first in the series of Waitaki District Heritage Trails and was opened in October 1984. It is best done by car and can be comfortably completed within an hour.

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