About our Geopark

Waitaki global and NZ map

Straddling the 45th parallel South on the east coast of Te Waipounamu (the South Island) of Aotearoa (New Zealand), the geopark is bounded by mountains and sea, the remnants of fire and ice, and the powerful Waitaki River.

The park covers just over 7,200 square kilometres. At the heart of it, all are spectacular areas of karst. Karst is landscape underlain by limestone which has been eroded by dissolution, producing ridges, towers, fissures, sinkholes and other characteristic landforms. 

The karst landscape and its ‘whitestone’ are integral to the identity of the Waitaki region. The first people to the area found shelter in limestone caves, leaving now-treasured rock art. Waitaki's largest town, Ōamaru, is renowned for fine limestone architecture. Today, the Vanished World Centre celebrates the wonderous fossils that emerge from the region’s whitestone. This is why our geopark is proudly named the Waitaki Whitestone Geopark. 

The New Zealand National Commission for UNESCO has shortlisted the ‘Waitaki Whitestone Geopark’ as its preferred candidate for UNESCO Global Geopark status in New Zealand.

Page reviewed: 26 Sep 2018 1:24pm