Elephant Rocks – Island Cliff, New Zealand - Atlas Obscura

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Elephant Rocks

Island Cliff, New Zealand

It took millions of years for these rocks to resemble their mammalian counterparts.  


Millions of years ago, much of New Zealand was submerged beneath a shallow sea. The temperate climate and accumulation of calcium-rich seashells turned sediment into limestone, which was thrust out of the ocean thanks to geological uplift.

Much of the exposed limestone has eroded and in unusual patterns, such as the Elephant Rocks which dot the countryside near Duntroon. These massive boulders are a sight to behold, and while they don’t always resemble elephants in shape, they certainly do in size and somewhat in color.

Visitors won’t have to worry about them stampeding either, as they’re firmly planted in the ground, making these boulders ideal for climbers. Their spot on the Alps 2 Ocean Trail makes the Elephant Rocks popular for cyclists as well.

Know Before You Go

The Elephant Rocks are currently located on a private farm. They're accessible to pedestrians, but be sure to be respectful when you visit. Also, remember you'll be sharing the land with cattle, so watch where you step.

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May 3, 2022

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