Wanderlust

THE CATLINS: CURIO BAY

To very local landowners and farmers Curio Bay is known for two things. The dolphins and the petrified forest. While we did not see any dolphins as did not go on a dolphin safari and were probably not in the area at the right time of year, we did see the petrified forest.

Gumboots, sand shoes, or tramping boots are recommended for seeing the petrified forest. There is specific access to this area via a short walkway and stairs. It will lead you onto a shore platform that is accessible at or near low tide. The petrified forest is in this shore platform. There are hundreds of trees and branches that you can see fossilised into the rocks, and is really fun for anyone of any age to see. My partner and I (both in our mid twenties) spent a good 45 minutes having a look around. Depending on the time of year there may also be seals and penguins around. Do not go to close to them, for your safety.

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The petrified forest is thought to date back to 180 million years ago. The coastal forest was thought to have been subject to multiple volcanic debris flows that spanned 20,000 years and drowned this forest is ash and sediment. Over time the woods became infused with silica from the volcanic debris deposits and turned to stone. After processes of deposition, erosion and tectonic movement these petrified forests are now visible for us to see and give us a glimpse into the past. To me, an avid rock collector and coastal science student the experience was riveting. With every step you would spot a new tree stump, fallen log, branch of pebble laced with rock and petrified wood layers. For those budding geologists like me that know what a rock hammer is, please don’t take it along. This area is protected under our Department of Conservation and we want to make sure this is still around for many generations after us to discover and fall in love with.

The beach at Curio Bay can be accessed close to the Petrified Forest. You head up the hill a little bit that looks over the bay the petrified forest is within and you will come across Curio Bay on the other side.

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Information source: DOC website

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