Vanished World School Holiday Programme (Sep 26th to Oct 11th )

“Explore Duntroon Day” – A School Holiday Day Trip to remember

As part of the school holidays programme, Vanished World in conjunction with the Waitaki Whitestone Geopark have organised two “Discover Duntroon” holiday programmes on Thursday 1st Oct and Tuesday 6th. The programme begins at 10am and finishes at 2.30pm.

Bookings are essential.

Duntroon, a 35 minute drive from Oamaru, is a place full of surprises. Locals have developed a number of attractions over the last 20 years and are proud of what they have to offer.

During the coming School Holidays, there will be a chance for young and old to come and “Discover Duntroon” through a variety of activities.

Young people are usually fascinated by dinosaurs and see them in books or in animated movies. Some people come to Vanished World and are hopeful of seeing dinosaurs. But it is not long before they realise that much of the Waitaki District was once under the sea., and the local fossils are ancient marine animals, whose evolution followed the extinction of dinosaurs. They discover giant penguins, very large shark’s teeth and the fossilised bones of ancient whales and dolphins.

After learning about Zealandia and being amazed at the marine fossil, visitors are able to go to the “Dig Room” where they can dig into local limestone which is about 25 million years old. And when they locate and dig out a small fossil, they realise it is real and must be 25 million years old too. They can name it and place it in a paper bag to take home and treasure. They can receive a Junior Paleontologist Certificate.

Outside the Vanished World Centre is a Rock Garden. Here the visitor can wander and touch a wide variety of rocks from throughout the district. Some are black and sharp, others orange and smooth and still others have fossils trapped in them. They can be classified as Volcanic, Metamorphic or Sedimentary. Visitors are encouraged to take on the challenge of discovering and identifying 9 different rocks on an activity sheet. If successful, they will be awarded a Vanished World Fossicking Certificate.

Moving further into the Village, the visitor will soon discover a ‘tomo’ (sink hole) at the rear of the blacksmith building. This was formed when the land sank into an underground stream. The stream flows under the village and seems to form a ‘spring’ which flows into the Duntroon Wetlands. This interesting geological feature is called “The Brewery Hole” and has the Maori name “Waikoakoa”, which translates as “Happy Waters”. Historically it was a site of a very early brewery. The site is guarded by a Moa Sculpture, which was created by sculptor Matt King, from the blacksmith’s scrap heap. 

Nicol’s Balcksmith Shop was established in the early 1900s and restored in more recent times. It is usually open  each day for people to view the interior. It is very authentic and has a NZ Heritage Category One Classification. Often there are volunteer blacksmiths using the forge on most weekends of the year, particularly from October to June. It is possible to enrol for basic blacksmith training courses. ( )

On the North side of highway 83 is the historic Duntroon Gaol, which is often open for visitors to inspect. Alongside is the A2O Cycle Trail, which goes from Aoraki Mt Cook to Oamaru. If you follow the trail down the hill it leads to the Duntroon Wetlands, where you are bound to see ducks and pukeko and even trout if you are very quiet.

There are numerous interpretation panels throughout the village, that informs visitors of interesting pieces of history. If you like a challenge, call into the Vanished World Centre and pick up a Duntroon Quiz, It takes about an hour to seek out the answers, it is more fun if you do this as a family group. When finished, call back to VW Centre for the answers.

And of course, you will need refreshments throughout the day. So either bring your picnic hamper, and enjoy a sunny site on the Village Green or call into the Duntroon Hotel for coffee, food and ice creams.


Bookings are essentials.

To book for the “Explore Duntroon Day”, please email us : or phone Mike: 021 159 7904

Booking details required:

  • Group leader Name
  • Contact details  
  • Number of adults ($10)
  • Number of children over 5 ($10)
  • Number of children under 5 (Free)
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