New Zealand is a land of the strange and magical. That’s why it played the role of Middle Earth in 6 Tolkein movies so well.


A short distance from the South Island coastal town of Kaiteriteri a dramatic natural formation has become a magnet for tourist cameras. Located on a small promontory at picturesque Kaiteriteri Beach, Split Apple Rock is a huge boulder which has been cleanly sliced down the middle. Maori legend says two gods were fighting over the possession of the large boulder. To settle the matter, they used their godlike strength to break it in half.

Split Apple Rock is approximately 50 metres from the shore. It sits in shallow water and at low tide many visitors wade out to it for photos. The unusual looking rock was officially named Split Apple Rock in 1988 and in August 2014, the name was expanded to Tokangawha/Split Apple Rock. It is made of granite which has separated into two similar sized chunks. The cleft was caused by a naturally occurring joint which is common in granite. Geologists say water seeped into the crack in the rock during an ice age and froze. The frozen water expanded in volume and split the boulder.

Split Apple Rock (Wikipedia)

Apart from those driving the coastal road past Kaiteriteri Beach, Split Apple Rock is also a point of interest for the many tourist boats and pleasure craft which operate along the shores of Tasman Bay. It is also a featured destination for sea kayakers to the Abel Tasman National Park. Unsurprisingly, it is a great subject for posting on Instagram and Facebook, especially with overseas tourists who are keen to show off the odd features they discover during their holiday in this isolated country at the bottom of the world..


Although Bluff is usually regarded as the most southerly point of New Zealand, the actual point is on a peninsula 70km from Invercargill in the Catlins region. Slope Point is reached after a 20 minute walk across private farmland. Once there, a yellow AA signpost shows the distance to the Equator (5140km) and the South Pole (4803km). Apart from the spectacular sea and coastline views, the most unusual natural attraction is the amazing cluster of crooked, heavily deformed trees. The spectacular shapes have been caused by the cold air that whirls around the Antarctic Ocean uninterrupted, causing the winds to rise to almost gale force before they smash onto this exposed coastal area in such a persistent and violent manner that the trees here are perpetually warped.

Slope Point Trees (tripadvisor)

The tortured macrocarpas were planted as a windbreak by Jeremiah O’Brien who arrived from Ireland a century ago. He married into the Haldane family who were the original European settlers in the area. In fact, a nearby bay is named after them. The daily battering from the constant, fierce and chilly Antarctic wind has made the normally tall trees grow dramatically bent over, knotted, warped and twisted. It’s hard to believe anybody would choose such a location to settle on.

I have made many trips on the Southern Scenic Route between Invercargill and Tuatapere. Along the part of the road that closely follows the coastline, there are rows of similarly warped trees also caused by the unrelenting strong winds that batter this part of the coast, especially over the winter months. I have to say, they are an unusual sight and are quite an attraction for the increasing number of tourists that now drive along this road.


The NZ Automobile Association has included the Rere Rockslide in its guidebook, 101 Must-do places for Kiwis. This natural attraction 50km from Gisborne, is the longest natural slide in New Zealand. It is a smooth rock formation 60 metres (200 ft) long, on a 30 degree angle over which the Wharekopae River flows creating a giant water slide. Thrill seekers ride the somewhat intimidating water feature on boogie boards, tyres and various inflatable carriers. The slide ends up in a pool and although it is free, there is some risk of injury if you don’t monitor your ride down the slippery slide.

Rere Waterslide (tairawhiti Gisborne)

These three natural attractions are eye catching and unusual, just like a number of other places found on the cluster of islands that make up New Zealand.

Please leave a comment.

Ceidrik Heward



  1. Ray Bretherton says

    I remember a few trips with you around that south coast, also past Riverton, Monkey island and cosy nook are interesting little places

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