Saturday, 9 May 2020

Koekohe Beach Boulders- Otago

Catch-up; November 2019

Our next stop is at the Koekohe Beach boulders, more well known as the Moeraki Boulders. Did I get you? Thought that might grab your interest more than the regular name. Moeraki Boulders is another one of those 'famous in New Zealand' attractions that are a must visit if you are passing. 

It's been six years since we last visited the Boulders and I wanted to see if they have changed. Haha, no of course not...they haven't changed in over 60 million years! No, I wanted to capture some sunrise shots of the Boulders. The tides were right and to make it even easier to access them at that time of the morning, the Red-Barn-By-The-Sea CAP (costs apply parking for NZMCA members) was right beside the Boulder carpark. We couldn't get closer if we tried!

But first things first. We visited another Kiwi icon, Fleurs Place in Moeraki village, a world famous seafood restaurant located right beside the harbour and where fresh fish is delivered daily.

We've also visited Fleurs before, in fact twice. On our last visit the dinner was so lovely we went back again the next day for lunch! We resisted doing that this time and only went for dinner and it was just as lovely as we remembered.

There's a new cafe/restaurant on the wharf since our last visit, The FishWife; with, of course, seafood as the main event including freshly caught crayfish. Sadly, it was closed otherwise we'd have visited there too.

From the village we headed over to Katiki Point, hoping to check out the local wildlife.

The historic 1878 Katiki Lighthouse sits at the entrance to a large reserve where... 

...if you're lucky, you'll see Hoiho/Yellow Eyed Penguins, Kekeno/NZ Fur Seals and several colonies of Black Backed & Red-billed gulls, many of them nesting if you're there at the right time of the year. 

We had an amazing experience with the penguins when we first visited here. One waddled right past David's nose as he was laying hidden off the track (although obviously it wasn't off the penguin's track!) Two penguins made an appearance on this day but they were quite a distance away although David saw a couple up close as they moved from 'Penguin Beach' up to their nests. He was frantically trying to locate me but I was out of sight at the end of the headland checking out a seal pup who was crying for his mum. 

That's Mum lounging on the rocks middle left (not the fat 'slugs' sleeping in the seaweed at the bottom of a cliff), and the pup hiding under a rock in the water. Mum got up and slid into the water to check on the pup and then hauled back out. He stayed in the water crying and kept peeping out to see if I was still there (bottom right). I backed off and left them to it. 

I walked to the Boulders in the middle of the afternoon and was immediately pleased that we were staying overnight; there were people everywhere. I did know this though because of the amount of cars and campervans that were parked in the carpark beside our camp. A lot of people were also accessing the beach from the cafe above the boulders, where you can pay $2 to use their stairway.

With so many people climbing on, lounging over and posing in front of the boulders I took single boulder photos as they became free of people. 

At least I would be able to come back later in the evening and the next morning. I did manage to capture one photo without anyone photobombing the shot.

Unlike this boulder which I was photographing when these people walked right into the shot, totally oblivious to me (I was a lot closer but stepped back to take this photo).

I gave up and headed home. I guess the boulders will be having a well earned break at the moment.

One morning a bus load of students arrived in the carpark and disappeared up the beach. An hour or so later a few came back to the bus and sat about on the grass waiting. It was quite some time before the rest of the students arrived and they all left. Later when I went for a walk along the beach, I found their sand, shell and driftwood artworks in the sand just through the track from the carpark.

Once it was high tide, the people disappeared & so did the rocks!

Although they still proved to be great subjects.

Luckily we stayed two nights 'just in case' it was cloudy at sunrise. The first morning was grey and miserable and I happily went back to bed. The second morning looked more promising when I lifted the blind at 4:45am to check the eastern horizon. I hurriedly dressed and was striding up the beach in the darkness shortly afterwards. 'Oh darn, was that head torches I could see ahead of me near the boulders?'. I wasn't going to have them to myself after all.

The tide was on it's way in and as I reached the boulders I had to weave in and out of a dozen photographers and their tripods lined up along the wave line; Americans on a New Zealand wide photography tour. Oh well if you can't beat 'em join 'em...

Although a few of them weren't too considerate, hogging prime spots to catch the sunrise ahead of me and their fellow tour members. This lady eventually got asked to move aside by one of the tour leaders so others could get in there. The boulder with the opening is a very popular rock.

I did have the last laugh though, I was wearing gumboots (Wellington boots) and able to wade into the waves ahead of them, while many of them danced and jumped about trying not to get wet. Most gave up in the end though and walked into the thigh deep water. My gumboots also filled up as the waves got larger. I felt a little sorry (a teeny wee bit) for them having to wear wet shoes and soaked pants for the rest of the day as they sped about the country looking for the next scenic photo stop.

And for the photographers out there, here are my settings for the photo below- f/10, 3 sec, ISO 50
You also need a heavy duty tripod and be prepared for the legs to be dunked in sea water and also have sand stuck in the telescopic parts (unless of course you have a lovely husband who cleans it all out for you).


  1. We knew nothing about Fleurs until we rolled into town and googled where to eat! Oh my what an experience, a meal we will remember for the rest of our lives! The tide had come in by the time we left Fluers, but we were content.

    1. Hi there, loved your blog on Fleurs (and your writing style, I wish I had that gift) and believe me you didn't miss out by not having muttonbird, it's a once in a lifetime taste that I have no need to repeat.


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