Explore the sheltered and narrow valley of Anatini. Featuring the fossils of a baleen whale partially exposed in a limestone outcrop.
Nearby the world-famous Elephant Rocks, Anatini has one of only a few natural limestone arches in New Zealand.
Here you can view the remains of an ancient baleen whale that was probably five to six metres in length. Baleen whales are filter feeders. They sieve seawater to collect small animals of only a few cm’s in size to eat.
The fossil whale found here died millions of years ago and is distantly related to
modern baleen whales. Pieces of the whale’s skeleton were buried on the seafloor with only parts of the original skeleton having been preserved.
Uplift and erosion over the last 20+ million years mean these whale remains are now exposed at the surface and visible at this site.
The limestone exposed at Anatini and its surrounds were originally formed around 23 – 25 million years ago (during the Oligocene Epoch). During this time Zealandia was mostly a submerged continent with only a series of small islands remaining above sea level.
Shell fragments from dead marine creatures accumulated on the seafloor and
became compacted into limestone. Vertebrates that also died in this marine
environment were at times preserved within this sediment. Examples of such
vertebrates include whales (as seen at this site), dolphins, and penguins.
The Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail also passes through this gorge.
With views over picturesque countryside, this was the scene for Aslan’s Camp in the film Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.
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