The Moeraki Boulders are a group of large spherical “stones” on Koekohe Beach near Moeraki on New Zealand’s Otago coast. These boulders are actually concretions that have been exposed through shoreline erosion from coastal cliffs. Even today, there are still boulders remaining in the mudstone that will, eventually, fall on to the beach as they come lose due to erosion!
The boulders are one of the most fascinating and popular attractions on the South Island.
They originally started forming in ancient sea floor sediments around 60 million years ago, and the largest boulders are estimated to have taken about 4 million years1 to get to their current size.
Watch the video below for a short introduction and some fascinating facts about the Moeraki Boulders!
Some of the boulders weigh several tonnes and the largest ones can be over 2 metres wide!
We showcase some of the very best photos of the Moeraki Boulders and the surrounding area below on this page!
Maori legend tells that the boulders are remains of calabashes, kumaras and eel baskets that washed ashore after the legendary canoe, the Araiteuru was wrecked at nearby Shag Point (Matakaea).
The Boulders are a very popular spot for photographers – and with good reason!
Early morning and late afternoon are the prime times for photography, when brilliant soft sunlight is cast across the rocks; making for spectacular photographic opportunities. Other times, such as when storms are rolling in, provide an atmosphere and scene that can’t be matched anywhere else in New Zealand, or the world!
These accommodation options are the closest you will get to the Boulders, in the town of Moeraki. If you want to stay as close to the boulders as possible then accommodation in Moeraki is the first place to look and there are a good number of options to suit all tastes and budgets.
Moeraki Beach Motel
Cnr Cleddy St and Haven St, Moeraki
From NZ $115 per night
Phone: +64 3 439 4862
This quaint little motel has 4 self-contained units containing two bedrooms in each. There are water views from all rooms and it is perfectly located if you are wishing to see the Boulders, Lighthouse, penguins and seals and other local attractions. It is also only a 5 minute walk to some of the area’s best eateries.
39 Cardiff St, Moeraki
Prices on application
Phone: 03 439 4520
This self contained unit in located on the eastern side of Moeraki gives you exceptional privacy – and views of the coast and the village from your accommodation here. You can walk to the boulders from Three Bays, making it a wonderful place to base yourself while in town. Restaurants and the tavern are also within walking distance.
There’s only one unit here, so you’ll need to book in advance to secure a spot. Kitchen, bathroom and king sized bed make this an ideal accommodation for couples.
Noah’s Boutique Accommodation
2 Coronation Street, Moeraki
Rooms from $140 per night
Phone: +64 3 439 4998
Leonie and Bruce, the owners of Noah’s Boutique Accommodation in Moeraki, pride themselves on providing great hospitality and a high-standard of accommodation to guests. Their property is located very close to the beach, so most of the self contained rooms have great sea views. Guests enjoy free WiFi, onsite parking and private courtyards.
Various addresses around Moeraki
From $100 – $175 per night
Phone: +64 3 439 4550
Moeraki Rentals is run by locals Anne and Peter Brown and provides unique cottages, houses, beach houses and other one of a kind accommodation around town. Their properties are suited to couples and families and can be booked for any amount of time; whether it’s one night or several weeks that you wish to stay.
Moeraki Village Holiday Park
114 Haven St, Moeraki
$70 – $150 for accommodation, & from $35 for powered and non-powered sites
Phone: +64 3 439 4759
This holiday park, a 45 minute beach walk from the Boulders, is run by Kristina and Robbie Mitchell and has a variety of accommodation options ranging from self contained units, cabins, a bunkroom and 58 powered and non-powered tent and campervan sites.
More Accomodation near Moeraki
Below you will find a listing of all the accommodation available not only in Moeraki itself, but in the surrounding towns as well.
There are several small towns within a short driving distance of the Moeraki Boulders, and many people prefer to see the boulders and then begin driving towards their next destination, with a hotel or B&B stop-off along the way!
Hampden is just two minutes away from Moeraki.
Waihemo Lodge Hotel
13 Runbrake Street, Palmerston
56 Tiverton Street, Palmerston
Centrewood Historic Homestead
Bobby’s Head Rd, Palmerston
Palmerston Masonic Lodge
5 Kirkwall Street, Palmerston
Waihemo Lodge Hotel
13 Runbrake St Palmerston
Mount Royal B&B
Mount Royal, RD 1 (Just off SH1), Palmerston
Oamaru is just 37km, and less than 30 minutes drive, from the Moeraki Boulders. This makes the town of Oamaru a great place to base yourself when visiting this region of the South Island.
Heritage Court Motor Lodge
Ambassador Motor Lodge
AAA Thames Court Motel
Bella Vista Motel Oamaru
Oamaru Motor Lodge
Holmes Hill Motel
Highfield Mews Motel
Oamaru Luxury Accommodation
Oamaru Bed and Breakfasts
Oasis on Orwell B&B
Oamaru Holiday Parks
Oamaru Top 10 Holiday Park
The town of Hampden is just two minutes away from Moeraki.
Sleep Tight B&B
55 Ipswich St, Hampden
Phone: +64 3 439 4533
NZ $100 – $150 per night
Now available through AirBnB
Moeraki Boulders Holiday Park
2 Lincoln Street, Hampden
Katiki Point, Moeraki: Penguins, Fur Seals, Katiki Point Lighthouse
No visit to Moeraki is complete without going out to Katiki Point, which is at the southern end of the Moeraki peninsula.
Katiki Point Lighthouse is the most noticeable attraction here, but if you take the time to explore, you’ll find some of New Zealand’s most unique wildlife gems.
Endangered Yellow-eyed Penguins, Little Penguins and Fur Seals are the highlights of Katiki Point, but other wildlife can be spotted as well.
The Katiki Point Wildlife Management Reserve is a haven for wildlife and provides a protected area for these animals to thrive; as well as a spectacular spot for tourists to see them.
When visiting Katiki Point to see the wildlife, always respect their boundaries and never disturb, touch or get close to any animals, and always take your litter with you.
Unfortunately, Katiki Point has suffered from the effects of some tourists causing damage to the local environment in recent times, with the penguins being particularly vulnerable with serious negative impacts on their breeding as a result of human disturbance.
Authorities are currently looking into ways to reduce the effects of visitors on the pengiuns, other wildlife and the environment of Katiki Point.
Please respect the penguins and all wildlife at Katiki Point (and everywhere else throughout New Zealand) and keep your distance at all times.
Moeraki Katiki Point is listed as an Important Bird Area (IBA) through BirdLife International, meaning that it is a significant site for one or more species. Katiki Point was granted IBA status due to its important breeding population of Yellow-eyed Penguin (an Endangered species) and the Stewart Shag (a Vulnerable species).
It’s not only those two species that call Katiki Point home though. BirdLife lists many other species that are known to or likely to be breeding in or near the reserve. That means avid birdwatchers have a great chance of seeing a whole host of bird life here.
Having a good pair of binoculars with you will give you the best chance of spotting far off birds throughout all the habitats including the rock shelves, the beach and in the grounds surrounding the lighthouse. You could spot:
- Little Penguin
- Sooty Shearwater
- Little Shag
- Black Shag
- Spotted Shag
- Paradise Shelduck (Pūtangitangi)
- White-faced Heron
- Royal Spoonbill
- Pied Stilt
- Swamp Harrier (Kāhu)
- Variable Oystercatcher (Torea)
- South Island Pied Oystercatcher
- Southern Black-backed Gull
- Red-billed Gull
- White-fronted Tern
- NZ Sacred Kingfisher (Kōtare)
- NZ Pipit (Pīhoihoi)
- Grey Warbler (Riroriro)
- New Zealand Bellbird (Korimako)
Other Things to Do in Moeraki
Besides visiting the Boulders, there are plenty of other things to do and places to see in and around Moeraki village and the spectacular coastline!
See the Penguins and Seals and Walk to Katiki Point Lighthouse
Moeraki is not just famous for its boulders – it’s also a wonderful place to see both Yellow-eyed Penguins and Blue Penguins. You could also spot Fur Seals and many other birds.
The lighthouse walk at Katiki Point Lighthouse is an easy walk that can take anywhere from 20 minutes up to an hour and is a great place to head out to not just for the spectacular scenery, but also for the chance to spot some of New Zealand’s unique wildlife.
Start at the end of Lighthouse Road. You can get some great close up views, but remember: never disturb, touch or feed the penguins or seals. They are all protected species and their space must be respected at all times. You can however take as many photos as you wish from a distance!
There’s also a fantastic penguin viewing hide, so you can see them up close without disturbing their natural behaviours or putting their welfare at risk. Viewing penguins is always a highlight of any visit to Moeraki.
A visit to the Te Raka a Hineatea Pa site is also highly recommended.
Within and surrounding Moeraki you can enjoy eating at great restaurants, cafes and other places in beautiful surroundings. Locally caught fish is a feature on menus throughout the village, but whatever your tastes might be, you will find something nutritious and delicious to eat while you’re in town whether it be breakfast, lunch, dinner, or just a coffee and snack.
Nearby Hampden Beach is a safe location for swimming and is rarely crowded so it’s a beautiful spot for a family outing. Kayaking is also a popular activity here.
Boating and Fishing
Moeraki is famous for its fishing. The fishing here is considered excellent throughout the year and you can experience it by heading out for a day on a charter boat, such as those offered by Moeraki Fishing Charters. Their tours take in not only fishing, but wildlife watching and general sightseeing as well as you meander around the coastline. Visit the company’s website to find out more about tours and prices.
Another company offering fishing tours off the coast of Moeraki is Sirocco Fishing Charters who run trips that run for up to 6 hours, allowing you to make a whole day of it. They also have an onboard BBQ during the day, so lunch is taken care of. Sirocco Fishing Charters also offers its own accommodation at a place they call The Lodge which can house up to 20 people in bunk style arrangements; but you’ll need your own sleeping bag and towels if you want to stay there.
When out fishing, species that you can expect to come across include sea perch, blue cod, paua, tarakahi, trumpeter, and groper, amongst others. The expert fishing guides will be able to fill you in on conditions out on the water before you head out, depending upon what time of year you’re visiting.
Alternatively, if you prefer solitude and staying on land, you can simply head to the beach and throw a line in and watch the sun go down.
Moeraki Boulders Photos
Do you have a photo to add? Let us know and we’ll upload it here to showcase, with full credit to you!
Just email us at: admin at moerakiboulders.com
Moeraki Boulders Driving Distances
How long will it take to drive to the Moeraki Boulders from other locations on the south island?
If you’re setting out on a day trip to see the boulders, or just want to drop by on your way to somewhere else, it’s handy to know how long the drive can take and what else you can see along the way.
Driving distances and approximate travel times by road to the Moeraki Boulders from other popular New Zealand locations:
Note that all times are approximate and based on direct trips with normal traffic conditions.
|40km, 35 minutes
|75km, 1 hour
|280km, 3.5 hours
|285km, 4 hours
|460km, 6 hours
Restaurants and Eating Out
Places to eat near the Moeraki Boulders
The Moeraki Boulders Café, Bar and Gift Shop is the closest eating outlet and store to the boulders. There’s a range of food available as well as coffee, souvenirs, jewellery and clothing, much of it crafted by local people. The ocean view is beautiful and it’s a great place to stop off and refresh before or after your visit to the Moeraki Boulders.
You can find out more on their website.
Fleurs Place is a waterfront cafe, bar and restaurant rolled into one. Located at the Old Jetty, Moeraki, the Fleurs caravan opens from 8am for coffee and snacks, while the main restaurant is open from 10.30am from Wednesday to Sunday only.
Moeraki Tavern at 144 Haven St, Moeraki serves up seafood, burgers and cold drinks and is open from 11am to late every day. A good spot for families to enjoy a well priced meal with a view.
Otago Region, New Zealand
If you’re visiting the Moeraki boulders then you will most likely be extending your travels around the beautiful greater Otago region, where there’s dramatic landscapes, mountains, snow, some of the best skiing in the world, world class wineries in Central Otago, and so much to see, so many places to go, and so much to do.
You’ll come to Balclutha on State Hwy 1 in south eastern Otago. The town is cut through by the Clutha River, and even has its own small airport. State Highway 1 goes straight through Balclutha township which makes it a fantastic and convenient stop off point on your road trip.
After the mighty Waikato River on the North Island, the Clutha is the second longest river in New Zealand. The river provides plenty of opportunities for activities like fishing and boating, as well as relaxing sightseeing for those who prefer a quieter experience.
If you want to visit the spectacular natural beauty of The Catlins, including the wonderous this important remnant of temperate rainforest that once covered the region, Balclutha is the closest large town to base yourself.
Locals often refer to Balclutha simply by the name “Clutha” which originates as a Scottish name.
The Balclutha Road Bridge is a landmark you can’t miss, built back in the 1930’s and listed on the New Zealand Historic Places Trust.
Things To Do In and Near Balclutha
Balclutha is home and within arms reach of some stunning natural beauty. As well as the important and spectacular Catlins area.
This makes the town a special place to stop at for visitors wanting to eperience the unique natural environment of New Zealand’s south island.
As you can see from some of the stunning photos on this page, Balclutha and surrounds provides plenty of visual opportunities for amazing photography; especially if you head out early morning, late afternoon at sunset, or on misty days where the atmosphere makes for some very special photos. Your imagine is the limit when it comes to taking stunning shots of Balclutha and the surrounding areas; feel free to submit them to this site as we love to share high quality photographs on this page!
Balclutha has a rich history which is well worth exploring if you have the time and interest!
There are a number of options for places to stay while you’re in Clutha and exploring the local area. Most of the lodging facilities are located in the southern section of the town south of the river.
Hotel South Otago 13 Clyde St
Highway Lodge Motel 165 Clyde St
Rosebank Lodge Motor Hotel 265 Clyde St
Riverside Retreat Hospital Rd
Balclutha Motor Camp (Holiday Park) 56 Charlotte St, Naish Park
Helensborough Motor Inn – 23 Essex St (north of the river)
The Clutha iSite is located at 4 Clyde St, at the Balclutha District War Memorial building.
Glenorchy is 45km from Queenstown, and sits at the north of Lake Wakatipu and south of the NZ South Island’s most spectacular alpine regions including Mount Aspiring National Park.
And it’s not just any old drive to get you to Glenorchy. This is one of the most breathtaking drives in New Zealand; in fact, in the entire world.
The truly spectacular rivers and lakes are pristine, and the surrounding ancient forests of beech and a backdrop of snow-capped mountains makes Glenorchy look like something out of a fantasy film (well, actually, it is. See our mention below about which films Glenorchy has starred in).
It’s a small town which is popular with visitors who are keen to explore the mountains. Hiking (tramping) opportunities are in abundance when you base yourself at Glenorchy. The great multi-day Routeburn Track is just one of these walks, but there are many others:
Walking Tracks Near Glenorchy
- Routeburn Track
- Greenstone Track
- Caples Track
- Rees-Dart Track
The short and easy Glenorchy Lagoon walk is also a must-do for visitors, and is a great choice for families with young kids. This walk is near the Golf Club and is a loop track that goes through the attractive lagoon.
Glenorchy On The Big Screen
Glenorchy is one of many locations in New Zealand that were featured in The Lord of the Rings films. Once you’ve seen the spectacular landscapes here, you can see why it was chosen to represent Middle Earth. A number of other movies over the years have also had scenes filmed in and around Glenorchy, such is the awe inspiring natural beauty of the region. A short list of films that have been filmed at Glenorchy include:
- Lord of the Rings
- Vertical Limit
- The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian
- X-Men Origins: Wolverine
- Race for the Yankee Zephyr
- The Water Horse
Glenorchy really is a secret paradise that provides so many rewards for those who make the short trip from the hustle and bustle of Queenstown, while you’re in the Otago region.
If you’re spending more time on the stunning South Island, then Milford Sound provides the opportunity to see some of New Zealand’s most iconic and fascinating landscapes. So if you plan to head further south after visiting the boulders, it’s well worth considering visiting Milford Sound and the surrounding region. The amount of time you have to spend there will determine how much you can see. Much of the region is rugged and remote, but there are still fantastic opportunities even for the shortest stays to see some of the best that NZ has to offer.
Milford Sound Cruises
Cruising around Milford Sound is the best way to appreciate the stunning landforms and atmosphere. From the water you can view spectacular waterfalls and the luscious forests that grow on the rugged cliffs.
Cruises in and around Milford Sound range from those lasting just a couple of hours, to overnight cruises on luxury boats.
Kayaking at Milford Sound
Fine Tours New Zealand run a half day sea kayak experience starting out at Deep Water Basin. They take you out on the water where you’ll have extraordinary views of Mitre Peak and the Bowen Falls. A picnic lunch is included in the price of the kayak tour, as well as a short stop for lunch at a beach of the weather allows.
Milford Sound Walking, Hiking & Tramping
The Milford Track is one of the most famous and popular walks in New Zealand. It’s also considered to be one of the best wilderness tracks in the world and many people travel to the South Island specifically to hike the Milford Track.
The track is 53.5km in length one way which takes 4 days to walk and involves sleeping in huts along the way.
However there’s no need to think you have to miss out if you don’t see yourself as a marathon walker, because parts of the track are easily accessible for casual walkers.
Guided walks on parts of the Milford Track are available from a number of companies. These allow you to see some spectacular scenery under the guidance of a local expert.
Milford Sound Scenic Flights
Milford Sound Weather
Milford Sound is one of the highest rainfall locations in the world!
Rainfall is the reason for the beauty of the region. Without all that rain, there would be none of the spectacular waterfalls which Fiordland is famous for and which are one of the main reasons people visit Milford Sound and Fiordland.
All visitors to Milford Sound should be prepared for rain, but certainly don’t let it dampen your experience. Instead, take it in as part of the magical Milford Sound experience.
Embrace the rain and mist while in Milford Sound, for that is what makes this place so special and atmospheric.
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1. The Moeraki Boulders; anatomy of some septarian concretions. J. R. Boles, C. A. Landis, P. Dale