moeraki boulders

==the cj way++

The CJ way Guide to Moeraki Boulders

 AT A GLANCE 

Approximately 50 spherical rocks (boulders) on the beach

Located in Moeraki, Otago

5-20 minute walk from parking

Easy walk

$2 donation fee*

Best time to visit: mid-low tide, and or/ sunrise

Jandals/sandals are suitable

 WHERE IS THIS EXACTLY? 

  • Coordinates of Boulders: -45.3458623, 170.8266668

  • Coordinates of Café Parking: -45.348058, 170.826405

  • Coordinates of Department of Conservation (DOC) public parking: -45.351225, 170.828132

  • *The closest parking is at the Moeraki Boulder’s Café/Restaurant, but during opening hours, they do ask for a $2 donation (per person) for the maintenance of their boardwalk. You take this boardwalk down to the beach, then walk left on the beach for about 250m to reach the boulders; total time of 5-7 minutes. There is also DOC public parking available at the coordinates listed above. From there you walk along the beach (going left) for approximately 800m or 10-15 minutes to reach the boulders.

 best time to visit? 

  • The main consideration for visiting the boulders is the tides. Low tide is best as the boulders are exposed. At high tide, the beach can be inaccessible as the waves crash all the way up to the cliff face. In our opinion, sunrise is the best time to visit as the sun rises over the ocean.

 cj travel tips 

  • ​​The most ideal time to visit (in a perfect world haha) would be to coincide sunrise with a falling mid-low tide of approx. 1.3m to have both epic reflections in the wet sand and the boulders fully (or mostly) exposed.

  • Optimal tides (for Oamaru) would be 0.9-1.3m. When searching tide times, we used Oamaru (you can use this link here) as we couldn't find specific tide times for Moeraki. 

  • Arrive earlier than expected if coming for sunrise as it can get very busy (approximately 18 people were there when we visited for sunrise in December 2019).

  • When you first hit the boulders (there are about 50 in total), you will notice that most are clustered in one set (and this tends to be where most people set up and take photos). But if you continue walking left a little, you will find another row of six or so boulders and several perfectly isolated boulders too. We prefer photographing these boulders as they look just as amazing but always seem to be less busy (which is mind boggling as the crowds are literally less than 40m away!). 

 cj photography tips 

  • At sunrise the boulders will be largely silhouetted, so if you can, take an overexposed shot to bring back some shadow detail in processing.

  • If you can time the tide so that the waves are lapping right up to the boulders (or just past), then bring ND filters and practice with exposure times between 0.3 and 2 seconds to get a nice wave motion around the boulders.

  • High cloud opposite the sun would make a reverse sunset incredible and give the ability to bring out more detail in the boulders. If you're looking to do this (catch a reverse sunset here) we suggest checking here and keeping your eye on the cloud forecast (remember high cloud is usually the nicest cloud). 

  • If you have a phone or GoPro and come for sunrise a time lapse would look great but you will need something high (e.g. tripod) to attach it to.

 what we found useful to pack 

​In addition to the usuals (camera gear, suitable clothing, water and food, first aid, etc. we found the following items useful for Moeraki Boulders:

  • Jandals/sandals 

  • A towel/blanket (that you can rest your gear on so it won't  get wet).

  • If you are visiting at sunrise and want to be in a photo, remember you will most likely be silhouetted so bring clothes that 'outline well' (e.g. some of my [Char's] dresses end up looking like sacks when silhouetted haha - I tend to opt for clothes that are a bit more fitted or defined when it's going to be a silhouette shot).

  • Money (for donation) if visiting the boulders during cafe/restaurant hours and using their boardwalk for access.