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New Zealand Geology

Exploring the Wiffen Valley

Geologists explore Cretaceous rocks in Hawkes Bay, Photo Julian Thomson GNS Science

New Zealand's rocks are a record of continuous processes of change going back millions of years.

Geologists uncover the hidden stories of land rising and descending into the sea, powerful mountain building phases, massive erosion into vast ocean troughs and violent outpourings of volcanic rock. In this section, you can find out about what these rocks are made up of, and some of the stories they tell.

When we think of the rocks that make up New Zealand we have to remember that the area of continental crust includes the North, South and Stewart Islands, and a much larger area of surrounding continental shelf below sea level. This is an expanse of sea floor called Zealandia which slopes gently to about 200 metres below the surface.

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