Pyramid Valley

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Pyramid Valley is a limestone rock formation near Waikari in the North Canterbury region of New Zealand. It lies 80 km north-west of Christchurch. On the foot of the valley is a swamp which became notable in 1939 as New Zealand's largest paleontological site for moa fossils. In 1938 the landowners Joseph and Rob Hodgen found three large bones of Dinornis giganteus while they buried a dead horse in the swamp. They opened this area for excavations and in the early 1940s fossil hunters like Robert Falla, Roger Duff, Robert Cushman Murphy, Jim Eyles, Ron Scarlett and many others began their research work at this site and unearthed the remains of long extinct birds including more than 183 complete moa skeletons and tens of thousands of fossil bone fragments from about 46 species of Modern birds. The swamp was formed around 18,000 BC and became drained c. 2,000 years ago. It provided a lush vegetation which attracted five different moa species.

Pyramid Valley is also well known for its vineyards where Riesling is produced.

Further reading[edit]

  • Duff, Roger: Pyramid Valley, Waikari, North Canterbury: The Story of New Zealand's Greatest Moa Swamp Christchurch, Canterbury Museum, 1949
  • T. H. Worthy, Richard N. Holdaway: The Lost World of the Moa: Prehistoric Life of New Zealand, 2002 ISBN 0-253-34034-9


  • R. N. Holdaway, T. H. Worthy : A reappraisal of the late Quaternary fossil vertebrates of Pyramid Valley Swamp, North Canterbury, New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of Zoology, 1997, Vol. 24: 69-121 0301-4223/2401-069.
  • C. J. Burrows : Moa Browsing: Evidence from the Pyramid Valley Mire, 1989 New Zealand of Ecology, Vol 12, (Supplement) 1989

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 42°58.0′S 172°37.60′E / 42.9667°S 172.62667°E / -42.9667; 172.62667