Sunday, February 7, 2010

Gallivanting Part 2

I am definitely going back to the Wairere Boulders.  And next time it will be on a cool day with lots of time to give to walking every inch of the tracks.  I love trees and rocks so this place is a bit like Pauline Heaven.  

A 40 minute walk always turns into at least an hour walk for GB and me. Not because we are old and decrepit (although I am the first to admit neither of us is a spring chicken) but because of that thing we wear around our neck, the camera.  It was already 4.30 when we arrived so we had to leave the additional 1 hour walk we could have done (which could well have taken 2 hours if there were lots of photo opportunities).  

To quote from the literature provided,  Wairere Boulders is the only known basalt boulder valley world-wide, that is composed of such an enormous number of huge rocks in the middle of "clay country".  Just down the road a bit we had been in awe of an ancient tree, here the rocks are 2.6 - 2.8 million years old.  They are the erosional remnants of a basalt layer, once positioned about 90 metres ( 295 feet) above the valley floor. 

The erosion of the rock surface (called fluting, lapiez or solution pits) is extrememly uncommon for basalt rock.  There is no known place in the world with such heavily and fascinatingly fluted basalt.  It is believed that the erosion was caused by rain accumulating acid as it dripped through the Kauri tree canopy and then onto the rocks below, dissolving the surface.  Some fluting is 30 cm wide and 100 cm deep (12 inches wide and 40 inches deep).

I took dozens of photos but wasn't happy with a single one of them.  I just couldn't get any perspective.   For example the photo above of a prettily fluted rock doesn't look very big but was, in fact, much taller than me.

I just loved how this tourist attraction has been developed, the walking tracks are indeed just that - tracks.   You can imagine them returning to their natural state very quickly if they were not walked frequently.    Where there are bridges they follow the curves of the rocks.  

And there is a lovely story behind its development.  The following is quoted from the website:

The stunning rock formation at Horeke - the Wairere boulders - lay hidden for more than 100 years until a Swiss couple stumbled across it, thanks to their goat.

Felix and Rita Schaad bought the overgrown land in 1983 on arriving in New Zealand, not knowing it had a hidden secret.

It was four years after they had moved into their remote valley farm when the couple stumbled over the ancient treasure trove, while out catching wild goats with their dog.

Approaching the goat, Rita says they found rocks piled on each other looking like a river of stones.

After discovering their humble home was hiding a geological piece of paradise, it was always their intention to show it off to the world. But their dream was only realised six years ago when the determined couple began building pathways by hand through their jungle oasis.




  1. By hand??? That, truly, IS determination!

  2. They were absolutely stunning and amazing and, like you, I didn't manage a photo which really captured the size and magnificence of the phenomenon.

  3. I remember the days when GB walked at about ten miles an hour. The camera has certainly made a difference. He's always had it round his neck but it's only comparatively recently he's taken to photographing such a range of subjects.

  4. Pauline, glad I can now catch up. Basalt is impervious to most things but I guess acid isn't one of them, thanks for taking us there.


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