Travelling will always reveal something new, and one of the best places to discover a breathtaking site is on Koekohe beach in New Zealand. Thousands of tourists flock to the beach every year to see the breathtaking Moeraki boulders, big round stones that sit on the beach and some at the water’s edge. The locals have given the boulders different names; the Maori calling them eel pots, other names given to the boulders include the ‘bowling balls of giants’, ‘alien’s brains’, ‘hooligans’ gallstones’, while some go to the point of calling the area the ‘Stonehenge of New Zealand.’
Myth and Legend of the Moeraki Boulders
The boulders of the Maori legend date back over 60 million years and were formed from natural concrete. The Maoris who call the boulders ‘eel baskets’ say that they were scattered on the beach after the capsizing of a legendary fishing canoe. However, the boulders are, in fact, formations created through the hardening of sea sediments exposed through millions of years of soil erosion. Paleocene epoch dates the boulders to be at least 56 million years old.
The boulders measure up to three meters in diameter and the biggest boulders can weigh up to 7 tons. Geologists say that the Moeraki boulders are a result of erosion concretion and time. Concretion is the formation of a compact mass through the precipitation of natural mineral cement within the spaces found between sediment grains of sedimentary rock. The stones are believed to have been created when the Paleocene mudstone hardened then was buried in the mudstone cliffs. After millennia of shoreline erosion, the waves washed away the softer stone to leave the boulders some in isolation while others are in clusters.
Some of the boulders have cracks called septaria, and they have small quantities of quartz, dolomite, as well as yellow and brown calcite. There were more boulders on the beach in the 19th Century, but people took the smaller ones home for landscaping purposes. However, today, the government protects them and it is legal to move and graffiti them.