Visit Moeraki, Oamaru / Waitaki, NZ

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  • Moeraki is a small fishing village on the coast between Oamaru and Dunedin that has long been a popular holiday destination. Its attractions include the famous Moeraki Boulders and colonies of fur seals, little blue and yellow-eyed penguins.

    Moeraki is a small peninsula and harbour, with Koekohe Beach to the north and Hampden Beach to the south. A whaling station was established there in 1836 and a lighthouse was built at Katiki point in 1875, which still operates today.

    There are several restaurants at Moeraki that serve seafood as a speciality. Fleur’s Place, in particular, is world-renowned and is a favourite of seafood chef Rick Stein from BBC television’s “Taste of the sea”. Note that Moeraki is not to be confused with Lake Moeraki on the South Island’s West Coast near Haast.

    Accommodation in Moeraki (NZ)

    There are several motels at Moeraki, and a number of establishments that offer self-contained, motel-style units.

    Holiday parks offer self-contained units as well as powered sites for motorhome and caravan travellers, with unpowered sites for traditional tent-based camping. There are holiday parks both at Moeraki and at Hampden beach to the south.

    A number of cottages and holiday homes are available for rent.

    Transport around Moeraki

    Moeraki is located a short distance from State Highway 1, linking Christchurch and Dunedin. National coach touring services and inter-city bus services stop at Moeraki for refreshment and to see the famous Moeraki boulders.

    As Moeraki is a small place, most destinations can be reached on foot. Alternatively, mountain bikes can be hired by guests staying at the holiday camp.

    Tourist Activities around Moeraki

    Moeraki’s most famous attractions are the Moeraki Boulders. These were formed in the sea bed about 60 million years ago as calcite concretions around impurities in the muddy sea floor – much as a pearl is formed by layers of calcite. A drop in the sea level about 15 million years ago uplifted the mudstone, which is now seen as eroded cliffs behind the beach. The erosion of wind and rain continually exposes boulders from the cliff, which range from football-sized to more than two metres in diameter, weighing several tonnes.

    The boulders are best viewed from low to mid-tide, and are a short walk through regenerating bush and along Koekohe Beach from a visitor centre, which has a restaurant, bar and gift shop.

    The Moeraki peninsula to the South of Koekohe beach has a boat harbour, from which fishing charter trips can be booked. The fishing at Moeraki is especially good, with blue cod being the prized catch.

    Visitors can sample local seafood at the award-winningrestaurant Fleur’s Place. Though less elegant, local fish and chips are also very good!

    At the Katiki Point, near the tip of the Peninsula, stands a lighthouse built in 1875. Near here are colonies of fur seals and little blue penguins. With assistance from volunteers, a colony of Yellow-eyed Penguins (the world’s rarest penguin) has been established. Visitors might also see the rare Hector Dolphin in the waters of the bay. Whales are occasionally seen also. Furthermore, there are colonies of seabirds such as gannets, mollymawks, shearwaters and gulls.

    South of the peninsula, Hampden beach and Waimataitai Lagoon are popular for holiday-making. The beach is safe for swimming and has a holiday park with playgrounds. The lagoon is great for kayaking, and both bicycles and kayaks can be hired. Waimataitai Lagoon is also an archaeological site bearing traces of settlement of the pre-Maori “moa hunter” people.

    Inland from Moeraki is one of New Zealand’s largest working gold mines, at Macraes’ Flat. Two-hour guided tours of the goldmine are available from Moeraki, which also include visits to Macraes Trout Hatchery and the early pioneer settlement of Macraes.

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