1st Day of Christmas
Curio Bay/Porpoise Bay
Get yourself to The Catlins in the Deep South and enjoy the marine wildlife and petrified forest of Curio Bay and Porpoise Bay. Curio Bay is curious indeed, due to the ancient forest that was believed to have been buried by volcanic debris dating back about 180 million years. Back then Aotearoa was still part of Gondwana. Totally Jurassic dudes! While you’re there pop along to Porpoise Bay for a real-time wildlife show as one of our rarest and smallest dolphin species, the Hector’s dolphin, ride the surf and feed close to shore.Download your gift
2nd Day of Christmas
CAPE KIDNAPPERS – MATAUPO MAUI
This domineering coastal feature in Hawke’s Bay has a colourful history. One of Captain Cook’s crew was kidnapped there when a trade with the locals went bad (hence the name), but it’s also where Māui pulled the North Island out of the sea – Mataupo Māui means “fish hook of Māui”.
These near-vertical cliff faces tell us heaps about how the Napier coastline was fished-up over millions of years. Cape Kidnappers sits on the Hikurangi plate boundary where the Pacific and Australian plates meet. Over 300,000 years these plates keep colliding, pushing the rocks at Cape Kidnappers up out of the ocean creating these amazing cliffs. Look closely and you’ll see fossilised oyster and scallop shells, whale bones and shark’s teeth trapped in the layers of rock. Bluff oysters may be tasty, but we reckon these ones are much more interesting!Download your gift
3rd Day of Christmas
TE PAPA – QUAKE BRAKER
GNS Science isn’t just about rocks, earthquakes and tsunamis. GNS Science also works to help local councils to minimise risks and build resilience for communities from natural hazards. If you’re in Wellington this summer, go underneath Te Papa to see how engineers used base isolators – big rubber pads – in the museum’s foundations to damp-down the effects of shaking on the building during a quake.
Read about the Seismometer in Schools pilot, launched earlier this year in Palu, Indonesia. It’s part of the Indonesian Disaster Risk Reduction (StIRRRD) programme that GNS scientists have been part of. We’ve been working with schools to help educate communities like Palu, that recently had a M7.5 earthquake, to be prepared for earthquakes and tsunamis and how to deal with the aftermath of such disasters. Visit StIRRRD blog >Download your gift
4th Day of Christmas
TAUPO VOLCANIC ZONE
Next time you’re on your way up the North Island, don’t just take a swing at the hole-in-one golf challenge, take a look around the Wairakei geothermal wonderland. Relax in a hot pool, walk the Craters of the Moon, or try your hand at fishing for freshwater prawns. You’ll find that the Taupō Volcanic Zone has a lot to take in.
We are world leaders in geothermal research and development. It’s abundant, renewable, low carbon and currently supplying 17% of New Zealand’s energy needs. The Wairakei Steam Field is at the heart of New Zealand’s geothermal energy production and we’re steaming ahead, poised to unlock more geothermal potential – both here in Aotearoa and key locations around the globe.Download your gift
5th Day of Christmas
You may have heard of the Waitomo Caves near Te Kuiti, but have you heard of their cousin caves in Northland? Around the same time as the Waitomo Caves were being formed, the limestone rock in Waipu near Whangarei was being eaten away by acidic groundwater. These karst landforms present a cave network of stalagmites and stalactites where the water has made its way through cracks and sinkholes in the soil above.
It’s taken around 30 million years for this shell bank to rise up from the sea floor and become a karst limestone cave, but it’ll only take you about an hour to get there on foot. It’s a gentle 2km walk in but watch out, the limestone can be slippery, and you’ll need to take a torch, although be sure to switch it off and enjoy the glow worms too.
Find out more about the caves, how to get there and safety tips for your journey from the Whangarei District website.Download your gift
6th Day of Christmas
ROTORUA LAKES REGION
Ever wondered why it can smell of rotten eggs around Rotorua? It’s because the whole area sits on a geothermal field that is burping up hydrogen sulphide and sulphur gases. It’s like an underground pressure cooker pushing up heat and gas. The heat and gas must go somewhere which is why when you’re in Rotorua, you should visit the many geysers, bubbling mud pools and hot pools. Kuirau Park is a great place to start, it’s free and it’s close to the city centre.
We spend a lot of time hanging out in lakes. New Zealand has something like 3,800 lakes, and each has a secret to tell. Through the Lakes 380 programme we’re doing health checks on 380 of our lakes by drilling down and testing the sediment of the lake floor. It can tell us about the current health of a lake and how that has changed over the last 1,000 years.Download your gift
7th Day of Christmas
They say an elephant never forgets. If that’s the case, then the Elephant Rocks in the Waitaki Valley between Timaru and Oamaru must have some stories to tell. They began life when most of New Zealand was still underwater.
It may look like elephants snoozing in a grassy paddock, but these are actually limestone rocks. They’ve been sculpted by centuries of rainfall and wind, leaving huge grey mounds that will certainly make it hard for you to forget them. They were also used as the backdrop for Aslan’s camp in the first Chronicle of Narnia films.
Can elephants talk to lions? Find out more about these interesting rock formations here.Download your gift
8th Day of Christmas
After the 2016 Kaikōura earthquake, our scientists were heavily involved in the hazard response around the region - monitoring sea change for tsunami alerts, checking river dams, measuring aftershocks, and assessing risk from liquefaction. That’s even before we started thinking about what to do about roads, local infrastructure and the social science behind how communities cope and rebuild after such an event.
The great news is Kaikōura is back open for business and this town rocks! We suggest checking out the concretions (huge spherical boulders on the coastline) at Gooch’s Beach, or do the Kaikōura Peninsula Clifftop Walk and see what a rocky Miocene (20 million years ago) shore looks like. Then head up the line, stop in at Nin’s Bin for some fresh local crayfish and on to Waipapa Bay. Here you’ll see the Papatea Fault where the coastal reef was raised by up to 6 metres – heavy stuff!
Watch GNS Scientist Kelvin Berryman describe how the Papatea Fault changed the coast near Kaikōura.Download your gift
9th Day of Christmas
TE WAIKOROPUPU (PUPU) SPRINGS
Did you know that 40% of the water we drink is from the ground? Groundwater comes from our rivers and underground aquifers. One of the purest aquifers is in Petone near Wellington and you can even fill your billy from a tap on the main street! But one of the clearest water sources in the world is at Te Waikoropupū (Pupū) Springs in Golden Bay. There, it’s estimated you can see over 60 metres deep into the water.
There’s a lot we don’t know about groundwater, for instance how old it is – in some cases the water in your glass could be thousands of years old. Also, we don’t know how much of it we’re using and whether it’s replenishing fast enough. That’s why we’re taking a good look at our groundwater reserves and trying to understand more about them and how to ensure we’re resourcing them properly.Download your gift
10th Day of Christmas
Fun science fact: if you turned Aoraki/Mt Cook upside down, it would fit into the sediment-filled depression created by the Cape Egmont Fault in the Taranaki Basin over the last 2 Million years! Problem is, you wouldn’t see it because it’s out at sea.
We’ve been providing research to support oil and gas exploration in Taranaki for some time. We’re now piloting ways to use the seismic data collected for petroleum research in different ways. By developing sub-surface 3D modelling our researchers hope to show how past earthquakes have shaped the newly-discovered continent of Zealandia.
If you hadn’t heard, GNS Scientists were part of a team of researchers that discovered New Zealand sits on our very own continent that broke away from Australia 60-85 million years ago. However, you can’t see it because it’s largely under water!
Stuff have a great article about Zealandia here.Download your gift
11th Day of Christmas
How often have you been in Auckland and looked across the harbour at Rangitoto and thought “I should check that island out one day”? Why don’t you make that day today? Grab some snacks, a bottle of water, be sun-wise, jump on a ferry and go exploring. There’s so much to do and see on the largest and youngest (only 600 years old) volcano in the Auckland Volcanic Field.
With panoramic views from the summit you can almost count the 50 or more volcanoes in the Auckland area. Explore the lava caves that were created when lava flowed down the volcano, cooled, then more molten lava poured through the centre like water through a hose. Rangitoto is a predator-free safe haven for some of our endangered bird species like the saddleback and the kākā, and also has the largest pōhutukawa forest in the world.
So before you go, make sure you do DOC’s predator-free checklist here.Download your gift
12th Day of Christmas
WEST COAST GOLD MINING
In the 1800s gold was one of the most valuable minerals around. This was also when the West Coast gold rush took off in about 1864. Many a young man set off with a pick and pan hoping to make his millions in the gold mines and rivers near Reefton, Hokitika and Ross.
I wouldn’t rush to find your fortune, but you can still hitch up your britches and give it a go. Try a gold panning or mining experience on the West Coast and give Eleanor Catton’s The Luminaries a read before you do. It’s set in Hokitika during the 1860’s gold rush.
These days lithium, nickel or cobolt are the minerals we’re hunting. They’re being used for clean technologies or renewable energy systems like rechargeable batteries or solar panelling. As we focus more on sustainable approaches to lighting our homes, manufacturing widgets or getting from A to B, it seems all that glitters is no longer just gold.Download your gift