Stonhenge Aotearoa

We have just had a holiday weekend here in New Zealand and instead of going away with the crowds, we decided to leave on Monday when most people were returning home and so have a peaceful time away from the city.

On one day we took ourselves off to Stonehenge Aotearoa.  Even though it shares its name this is not a copy of Stonehenge in Wiltshire, UK as the kindly lady on duty hastened to tell us.  Instead it is designed specifically for its location and as a centre for science education.  We are told that it is “a fully working star compass specifically designed for its geographic location”.

It was a very overcast, windy day up on the plain and my amateur photos cannot do justice to the place.StonehengeThis structure is a gigantic clock and calendar.  In addition to demonstrating the changing altitude of the midday sun over the year, it also identifies the current date, the times of the solstices and equinoxes and the precise time of local noon. It also reveals things that we cannot see – the ever-changing length of a day (due to the eccentricity of the Earth’s orbit) and, where the sun would be seen if you could view it from space – the constellation it would appear to be moving through.  It also identifies the time of solar conjunctions with bright stars.
Source – Stonehenge Aotearoa website.

The Analemma records the movement of the sun and also demonstrates the signs of the Zodiac.  Unfortunately my I-pod camera could not record the whole length of the Analemma which has all twelve star signs along its length.We are told that many people who read their horoscopes in the popular media are following their wrong star sign.  At an earlier visit I was told that rather than being a Pisces I was in fact an Aries.

Bronze centrepiece

At the centre of the henge is a bronze compass rose marked with the cardinal points.

This was a particularly fascinating place to visit.  It’s located off the beaten track but well worth the effort of going there.The first time I went we joined a guided tour of the property and this is what I would suggest to anyone considering a visit.

As I can’t begin to do justice to this fascinating place, I direct you to this Youtube clip and of course,  the website.  I hope you enjoy your visit.

25 responses to “Stonhenge Aotearoa

  1. As a person who taught history and still studies I remain completely astonished at the vast knowledge of astronomy held by ancient people.


  2. It does look like a fascinating place. 🙂


  3. My family and I would really enjoy visiting this place. Fantastic!


  4. jacquelincangro

    Thanks for the tour, Judith! Too bad that it wasn’t a sunny day when you visited so you could test out the sun dials.


    • When I was last there it was sunny and the tour guide showed us the sun dials and pointed out the shadows around the place. Of course, it is always better with a guide!


  5. Thanks, Judith. I enjoyed the video. 😀


  6. I don’t like this place because one day we made the drive (it is out of the way) and arrived 5 minutes after closing time and they wouldn’t let us in. And were very rude about it. So I won’t be going back.


    • Oh Thomas what an unfortunate experience. When we were there this week Richard Williams(?) and his wife were the only ones there and they were great. Richard is the person fronting the video.


  7. It is on my list of places to visit. Last time we were nearby the guided tours were not available so we opted to visit when a guide was available.

    I heard someone comment on the radio that the stars and planets were one part of our universe that man had not messed up. Let’s hope that does not alter. And more recently a commentator was saying that the ancients took notes on the heavens and new discoveries in the same way they do nowadays.


    • It certainly was much better with a guide. We just wandered around and while we were told we could come in and ask any questions, it’s not the same as having somebody with you. Hope you get there soon.


  8. Thank you for sharing this and other beautiful places in New Zealand. I have begun planning for a visit there about a year from now and will add this to the itinerary.


  9. It looks beautiful there, even without sunshine. We think we’re ‘advanced’ now, but those people were pretty clever to figure out how to set all that up.


    • We really have no idea of the scope of their knowledge. We know how these huge megaliths were lifted into place here in NZ but how did they do it at Stonehenge?


  10. Really interesting. Just added to my list of places to visit!


  11. Such an interesting place. You amaze me with all your adventures.


    • We bemoan the fact that we have no history here. We consider something 120 years old as really old, and wonder what we will show to our visitors. But then we find places like this to visit. Thanks for the comment.:D


  12. Pingback: Old stones « Photographic Memories

  13. Great post, thanks again for the inspiration. 🙂


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