Among majestic volcanoes, magnificent fjords, and glaciers, New Zealand is one of the most mysterious and fascinating lands on the planet. There are several areas of the territory where nature, still the absolute protagonist today, has created primordial and idyllic scenarios that enchant the eyes of those who observe them. But there is a mystery that, more than all, fascinates citizens and travelers from all over the world, and it is the one that concerns a group of perfectly rounded rocky spheres that shore up Koekohe beach.
A landscape as bizarre as it is fascinating: the spheres of Moeraki, which take their name from the nearby settlement of the same name on the coast of Otago, have fascinated and intrigued people since time immemorial.
Is it a scientific or supernatural phenomenon?
There are more than 50 rounded spheres on Koekohe beach which, seen from afar, look like marbles on the water’s edge waiting to be carried, by the wind and the tide, towards the horizon. But don’t be fooled, their weight reaches and exceeds seven tons, moving them from there is an epic feat.
Some of these boulders are intact, while others are half shattered. Still, others have cracks on the surface evoking, inevitably, dinosaur eggs that are about to hatch. The truth is that the Moeraki spheres are so beautiful and fascinating that they stimulate the imagination of the observer.
According to a popular Maori legend, the stones are connected to the sinking of the large Arai Te Uru canoe during a storm. The cargo of food baskets, carried on the boat, would be transformed into spheres, the hull in the reef, and the navigator would be transfigured in the great rock.
Some believe that the boulders were worked by the man many centuries ago and then transported to the sea. It would therefore be a sort of ante litteram art installation, but science does not agree with this version.
According to scientists, in fact, the origins of Moeraki’s rounded spheres date back to 60 million years ago when much of the Otago was still an ocean. Shells, plant fragments, and other natural residues joined with accumulations of calcium carbonate, silicon dioxide, iron sulfide, and iron oxide until they crystallized and turned into rocks.
Then, nature did the rest. 15 million years ago, the seabed rose and the boulders finally saw the light giving life to the spectacle that we can all see today.
Their value is universally recognized to the point that the Moeraki spheres are under protection, and any damage or attempted movement is prohibited. In reality, the giant marbles could not even be touched, however, tourists are not always able to keep this temptation at bay.
Admiring the rocks of Moeraki is an unrivaled experience at any time of day and in any season. However, it is during sunset, when the sun shines the smooth and smooth shell, that it opens before the eyes of the beholder of the most beautiful spectacle in the world.