Fully armed with the "Kiwi Fossils Hunter's Guide" as well as another excellent book by Lloyd Homer and Phil Moore that describes the geological features of the Wairarapa Coast called "Reading the Rocks", we visited several great geology hotspots along the coastline.
A striking feature that we noticed straight away was the flat topped escarpment that runs along much of the coast. This is a raised marine terrace that was at sea level about 80 000 years ago. It indicates that the whole area has been undergoing an enormous amount of uplift which continues to this day.
First stop was Hurupi Stream. (This is described in detail in the "Kiwi Fossils Hunter's Guide"). The soft mudstones at the sides of the stream were deposited under the sea in the Miocene Epoch (sometime between 11 and 7 million years ago) , when the Aorangi Range just to the North was an island, separated from other parts of the North Island by a shallow sea. We found quite a few marine molluscs that are very well preserved and easily spotted.
Not far along the coast road are the Putangirua Pinnacles. These spectacular features have been eroded out of a thick sequence of conglomerate. Hard layers or large individual boulders within the conglomerate form a protective cap at the tip of each pinnacle. The ground is strewn with loose rubble - testament to the fact that the erosion here is still very active. This might not be the best place to visit in a rainstorm!
A few kilometers along the coast road, there is a dramatic example of coastal erosion where a whole section of the original road itself has disappeared!