Elephant Rocks

Stay and explore key icon.
Stay and explore key icon.

MondayOpen 24 hours.

TuesdayOpen 24 hours.

WednesdayOpen 24 hours.

ThursdayOpen 24 hours.

FridayOpen 24 hours.

SaturdayOpen 24 hours.

SundayOpen 24 hours.

Island Cliff-Duntroon Road, Island Cliff

Elephant Rocks lies within the Waitaki Whitestone Geopark, an area that covers the whole of the Waitaki District. The geopark tells the story of the land and how it has shaped the lives of its people. At the heart of it all are spectacular limestone outcrops, like Elephant Rocks, which showcase a time when most of New Zealand was under the sea. 

To experience this part of the geopark for yourself, pop ‘Island Cliff 9494’ into your GPS and head away to Elephant Rocks. These unique formations sit on private land. Slow down on approach, as it’s easy to miss the wee car park. The Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail® also runs right past, so be sure to plan a stop. Once you’ve found it, do the quick 200m walk and find yourself peering down into a limestone basin that is home to a herd of Elephant shaped outcrops. Mind the sheep (not made of stone) and head on down to explore.

Nature lovers and amateur geologists will be impressed to learn that this Otekaike Limestone began forming about 26 million years ago. At that time, the Waitaki region was a seabed teeming with marine life. The limestone is made of compacted shell fragments from the creatures that lived and died at that time. The limestone has since been uplifted and has been eroded into the shapes we see today. As you wander through the outcrops keep a sharp eye out for evidence of an ancient sea floor and the ways in which wind and rain have given form to strange and interesting ‘elephant’ shapes. If you’re a climber, bring your bouldering gear, too.

Limestone in the geopark varies in age, and it’s the older Ototara limestone (approx. 35 million years old) that makes Ōamaru’s architecture so iconic. The creamy white stone can be seen in many of the region’s older and iconic buildings. The Waitaki Whitestone Geopark hopes to become New Zealand’s first UNESCO Global Geopark.

Words by Olivia Sisson & Photography by Nancy Zhou

Information not correct? Report an error

Location

Island Cliff-Duntroon Road, Island Cliff

Similar Places

The Terraces

Old artifacts on a dresser and land yacht at The Terraces with table in foreground in Ōamaru.
Place Ōamaru & Waitaki Editor's Pick
Galleries and museum key icon.

Local Kevin Murdoch restored The Terraces building and filled it with historical relics and an art studio. Pop in for a chat with Kevin and the other Ōamaru artist in residence, Al Bell - this is something of an alternative visitors’ centre.

Steampunk HQ

Exterior view of Steampunk HQ victorian building in Ōamaru.
Place Ōamaru & Waitaki
Galleries and museum key icon.

This epicentre of Steampunk culture comes alive at the Steampunk HQ, where interactive art comes to life in a way that’s fun, antique and futuristic all at once.

Nest Tree Houses

Looking up at a starry sky with Nest Tree Houses in the backdrop.
Place Ōamaru & Waitaki
Accommodation key icon.

The Hakataramea Valley is a slice of rural South Canterbury heaven, with picture-perfect landscapes, incredible views and nature all around.

The Vicarage

Jacqui standing at the entrance to her B&B.
Place Ōamaru & Waitaki
Accommodation key icon.

Enjoy a slice of Ōamaru's history alongside impeccable service and hospitality at The Vicarage.