The drive to Oamaru was a rainy one as Cyclone Iris passed over the South Island. Our first stop was at the Moeraki Boulders Café to try their famous seafood chowder before venturing down to the beach to check out the fascinating ‘concretions’.

Moeraki Boulders

Since the rain was coming down hard, we threw on our ponchos and headed for the beach. The Moeraki Boulders are a natural phenomenon situated on Koekohe beach along New Zealand’s southern east coast. These giant spherical boulders – called ‘concretions’ – are lumps of sediment bound together by a mineral cement that were created over 60 million years ago.

Braving the pouring rain
The largest boulders weigh up to 7 tonnes and are 2 meters across making them among the largest concretions in the world! Centuries ago the boulders broke away from the cliffs from the crashing waves and rolled down onto the beach. Some are seen still half freed in the cliffs.
One of the recently ‘released’ Moeraki Boulders

Locals have a variety of nicknames for the spherical rocks such as “giant gobstoppers”, “alien brains” and “bowling balls of giants”. In 1971, the boulders at Moeraki were given protection as a Scientific Reserve after rock collectors were found using explosives on them to expose their inner ‘guts’.

The inside ‘guts’ of a cracked Moeraki boulder

One of the boulders was actually hollow in the middle so I jumped inside! Felt like I was being hatched from a long lost alien egg hehe 🙂

Catching from the ‘alien egg’

Despite the rain it was a pretty cool stop! I wish we had more time to explore the boulders, but I guess we’ll just have to come back on a sunny day!

The most pristine spherical Moeraki boulder on the beach

As we continued up the coast towards Oamaru, we made a couple stops at a few local attractions. The Whitestone Cheese shop with its award winning cheeses peaked our interest as it offered a viewing deck to see the cheese making process (unfortunately they don’t work on weekends but it was cool to see stacks of cheeses inside).

We picked up a couple of their best sellers including their Moeraki Blue Cheese and were intrigued by the sign indicating they were experimenting with Deer Cheese! The world’s first trial batches of cheese from Elk’s milk have been produced and full scale production could begin next summer! CRAZY!

Famous Whitestone Chesse Shop

Hoping to see some penguins, we headed down to Bushy Beach just before dusk. The yellow-eyed penguin makes a regular appearance at this beach so despite the rainy weather we headed down to check it out. As soon as we got to the first platform we spotted this little guy in the bushes just ~20ft away.

A Yellow-eyed penguin hanging in the cliffs

We were surprised he could climb the ~50ft bank, but he seemed quite content sitting there staring at us the whole time! A number of seals also hung out of the beach, lazing around in the windy storm. One guy was giving us quite the show, with his head up in the air waving it from side to side.

The friendly seal

That capped off our adventure for the day! Would love to come back here to try to some more penguins again!