Science and Research Wed Geotourism in Waitaki - 26/07/2019

The Waitaki Whitestone Geopark (WWG) and GNS Science, New Zealand’s national geological sciences institute, have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to support the geopark’s nomination to UNESCO for Global Geopark status. 

Under the MOU, GNS Science is providing scientific expertise relevant to the Otago region as well as supporting the public engagement activities of the geopark.

The Trust said it is delighted to have formalised this agreement with GNS which builds on years of working together. For many years, GNS’s scientific maps and brochures have been a major component of the educational merchandise that has been sold through the Vanished World Centre in Duntroon, North Otago

“We are now working with GNS to access additional geoscience. It’s another example of the wide support that the Waitaki Whitestone Geopark is receiving from throughout New Zealand,” Mike Gray, WWG Trustee said.

In welcoming the MOU, GNS Chief Executive Ian Simpson said this type of partnership is another way that GNS Science can deliver real value to New Zealand.

“GNS Science’s purpose is to understand natural Earth system processes and resources, and to translate these into economic, environmental and social benefits. So, it makes sense that we are right behind the WWG’s bid for UNESCO Global Geopark status. We’re proud to lend our expertise to this international proposal.”

The two organisations share common interests in the development of geotourism initiatives to showcase New Zealand’s unique geology and associated history, and in highlighting the value and relevance of geological science to all New Zealanders.

The GNS Science MOU complements the WGG/Lincoln University MOU signed last year which was looking at tourism and its benefits and effects on the region. These MOUs, along with a growing geogastronomy sector in the region, are great news for the geopark bid, which will involve resubmission of the application in November.

The Elephant Rocks near Duntroon in North Otago are a collection of large weathered limestone rocks. The wider area around Duntroon is known for its interesting geology and preserved fossils.

The Elephant Rocks near Duntroon in North Otago are a collection of large weathered limestone rocks. The wider area around Duntroon is known for its interesting geology and preserved fossils.

About the Waitaki Whitestone Geopark:
Straddling the 45th parallel South on the east coast of Te Waipounamu (the South Island) of Aotearoa (New Zealand), the geopark is bounded by mountains and sea, the remnants of fire and ice, and the powerful Waitaki River. The park covers just over 7,200 square kilometres. At the heart of it all are spectacular areas of karst. Karst is landscape underlain by limestone which has been eroded by dissolution, producing ridges, towers, fissures, sinkholes and other characteristic landforms. 

The karst landscape and its ‘whitestone’ are integral to the identity of the Waitaki region. The first people to the area found shelter in limestone caves, leaving now-treasured rock art. Waitaki's largest town, Ōamaru, is renowned for fine limestone architecture. Today, the Vanished World Centre celebrates the wonderous fossils that emerge from the region’s whitestone. This is why our geopark is proudly named the Waitaki Whitestone Geopark.