Thirty million years ago, this part of New Zealand was under water. Prehistoric dolphins with crocodile-like mouths, enormous penguins, and gigantic whales once swam above the ground. After some of them died, their remains were buried beneath the earth for many epochs.
You’ll find fossils of these fantastic beasts at the Vanished World Centre, a real hidden gem on the road heading inland to Kurow and Omarama (State Highway 83). Pop in for a visit, and you’ll see a trove of paleontological treasures from the region’s ancient past.
Though some of the items displayed are casts of fossils, many of the items are the real deal. There’s also a room full of local rocks and crystals that are sure to dazzle anyone with even the slightest interest in geology.
There’s even a fossil extraction room, where kids can sit before trays of limestone rocks and start chipping away until they’ve unearthed their own fossil keepsake. Uncovering something that’s been hidden for millennia—and then getting to take it home with you—is an unforgettable experience!
The Vanished World Centre is, as its name suggests, at the center of the Vanished World Trail. The trail lets people take a self-guided tour of more than 20 sites related to the region’s prehistoric past. At the Vanished World Centre, you’ll find information about the various sites and objects you’ll discover on the trail.
Know Before You Go
On street parking available right outside. As of October 2018, admission is $10 NZ per adult or $20 for a family. It's open every day from 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.