The Vanished World Trail

We have developed a set of locations that form a freely – accessible Vanished World Trail.

This self-guided Trail spans coastal localities from Moeraki to Oamaru and extends inland through the Waitaki Valley. The Trail has more than 20 sites related to landforms, distinctive rocks, minerals, and fossils.

Most sites have signposts and/or explanatory panels. An informative trail brochure with a summary of sites and a location map is available for purchase at the Vanished World Centre in Duntroon.

Vanished World Self Drive Route

The Trail traverses some key geological localities in North Otago, both near the Centre and beyond. Together the Centre and Trail will introduce you to an ancient time. Two Trail sites show skeletons of fossil vertebrates that have been excavated and exposed (behind protective covers) for viewing. As you travel along the Vanished World Trail, you will often see spectacular limestone outcrops that started out as limey sand, interspersed with fossil fragments, that settled on the seafloor, 75-100 m below the sea surface some 24-26 million years ago.

Look up and imagine the water above your head. What would you see swimming around? The limestones of the Waitaki Region hold the signatures of the inhabitants of the ancient sea – shellfish, sharks, large fish, penguins, whales and dolphins – and it is these that we now bring to you.

The original graphics panel which is 3 m long, is on display at the Vanished World Centre, Duntroon. Photography and concepts by Ewan Fordyce. Graphic design by Martin Fisher. Our Logo, created by the local artist Burns Pollock, shows the stylised skeleton of the extinct fossil dolphin Waipatia. You can see a fossil Waipatia on display in the Vanished World Centre. 
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