The Physical Environment

Geology of Te Mata Park

The Peak is a ‘Hogs Back’ ridge of erosion-resistant limestone dipping steeply to the east. These sedimentary rocks, originally deposited in horizontal layers on the seabed, have been tilted and bowed upward by the geological forces of the Pacific and Australian tectonic plates.

The features of Te Mata Park are a result of the tectonic pressures and earthquake faults which run from Wellington in the south through Hawke’s Bay and the Ruahine Ranges.

The cliffs and valleys of the Park are classic limestone features. The limestone is built upon the calcareous remains of billions of sea creatures that lived and died near the coast over innumerable millennia. The valleys and cliffs, including the Tuki Tuki River valley to the east of the escarpment are shaped by fluvial processes (the action of streams and rivers) over millions of years. The nature of the native vegetation found in Te Mata Park is strongly influenced by the lime-rich substrate.

This formation, which is about three and a half million years old, is also found to underly other nearby coastal hills in the Hawkes Bay area. At that time the coastline was about 40 kilometres to the west, along the present edge of the central mountain ranges.

Fossilised shells and shell fragments can be found throughout the Park embedded in the ground and rock faces. While in the Park, you may find some well preserved specimens such as scallop (pictured) as well as barnacles, oysters, and brachiopods (lamp shells).

Please leave these fossils where you find them as they are part of the treasured whenua.