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Moeraki Boulders, Coastal Otago

Moeraki Boulders, Coastal Otago

One of the most unique beaches in New Zealand is found on the scenic stretch of road between Dunedin and Oamaru. Koekohe Beach, which hosts the surreal Moeraki Boulders, is an interesting place to stop and a visit doesn’t have to take long at all. It’s a special piece of nature, and seeing it at sunrise ramps up the wow factor even further. Keep reading to see what a visit to Moeraki Boulders is really like!

Moeraki Boulders (during the day)

I’ve been to the Moeraki Boulders heaps of times over the years (I grew up in Timaru and then Dunedin). It’s always a fun place to stop and stretch your legs on a drive. If you’re there around lunchtime I’d recommend taking a picnic down to the beach or eating in the café above the beach where you’ll get some nice views.

From the car park / café area it only takes 5 minutes or so to walk to the boulders. They ask for a donation for using the stairs, but if you don’t want to pay there’s a track towards the left (it’s a good idea to come back this way anyway). Depending on the tides, the boulders will either be high and dry or partially submerged. They kind of look like big cannon balls, or alien orbs, but the reality is that they are “concretions that have been exposed through shoreline erosion from coastal cliffs” (according to the official Moeraki Boulders website). Apparently there are still boulders in the cliffs waiting to drop onto the beach!

Moeraki Boulders during the day, New Zealand

It may get a little busy in summer, but it’s still a good place to visit. For a more intimate experience, consider going there early for sunrise.

Sunrise at the Moeraki Boulders

The best photos of the Moeraki Boulders are always taken around sunset, so we dragged ourselves out of bed early to see it for ourselves. We weren’t disappointed! We were joined by half a dozen other boulder enthusiasts and were treated to a colourful sunrise. The tide was high and the most of the boulders were partially submerged – it was a really beautiful scene. You don’t have to visit at sunrise but I’m convinced it’s by far the best time.

READ MORE: The Ultimate Two Week South Island Itinerary

Moeraki Boulders sunrise, New ZealandSunrise Moeraki Boulders, Coastal Otago, New ZealandKoekohe Beach sunrise, New Zealand

Koekohi Beach

Even if Koekohi Beach didn’t have a whole lot of boulders on it, it’d still be a good place to visit. You can get nice views of the beach from above and you can walk for miles (or kilometres as we say here in New Zealand) in relative solitude. There are heaps of beaches between Dunedin and Oamaru and this is easily one of the best!

Moeraki Beach sunrise, New Zealand

Moeraki (the town)

This tiny seaside settlement is a few kilometres from the boulders and is a good place to stay if you prefer quiet locations to big towns and cities. There are a couple of restaurants there and you’re never far from the beach or a good view. From Moeraki you can drive over to Kaitiki Point Lighthouse where you might see yellow-eyed penguins and fur seal pups. Check out this list of things to do in Moeraki.

The best things to do in Moeraki, New ZealandSeal pups at Kaitiki Point Lighthouse, New Zealand

Getting to the Moeraki Boulders

From Dunedin it’ll take an hour to reach the Moeraki Boulders. You could spend a lot longer than that though as there are many places to stop along the way. Some of my favourites include Karitane, Doctors Point and the Matanaka Farm Buildings. From the boulders it’ll take around 30 minutes to reach Oamaru. From the main road you’ll see a big sign pointing towards the boulders – this is quite a dangerous stretch of road so take care!

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Jon Algie

I'm a South Island local -- born in Timaru and raised in Dunedin. I left the island in 2006 and returned 10 years later. Having seen a good chunk of the world I realised how special this place is -- the most beautiful island in the world! Seven years (and almost 400 posts) later I'm still helping locals and tourists alike plan their trips around the South Island.