Moa Footprints On Display

In March this year a farm worker taking dogs for a swim, found moa footprints under the water of the Kyeburn River in Central Otago. For the record, his name is Michael Johnston. We owe him big time for being so observant and ensuring that his find was properly investigated by those with the knowledge and skill to handle this incredible discovery.  The footprints are now on display at Otago Museum.

Link to my previous post of May 10, 2019 – a  photo of the moa footprints  when they were still underwater. They were under more than a metre of water and seven footprints were discovered.

Otago Museum is in Dunedin, New Zealand.


Also, here is a link to the Otago Daily Times  article of 21 Nov 2019  that alerted me the moa footprints are now on display, the main reason for our recent Dunedin visit. The article starts with an excellent video that shows the footprints underwater, being extracted from the river, and what the current museum display looks like as the footprints dry out in humidity chambers – on view to the public. How long the process will take is unknown but at least six months and probably much longer.

Seven moa footprints were discovered, six were excavated and removed to the Otago Museum in May. The seventh was left as is (a large portion of bank would have had to be excavated to retrieve it and also it was already damaged by a root mass that’d been growing on top of it).

Age of the footprints: the sediments the footprints were contained in suggest a date range of between 1 and 11 million years old.

Got questions? This blog-post at the Otago Museum has a good FAQ that addresses a lot of likely questions:   Link To FAQ


—  Click on ANY photo to enlarge  —

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Complete foot of a giant moa that was part of the exhibition (above, below).

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Wall picture of the moa footprints in the riverbed, and one of the excavated moa footprints in a humidity chamber.

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About the discovery and verification of the moa footprints…

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The river had to be diverted in order to excavate the moa footprints.

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These are the first moa footprints we have records for in the South Island but others have already been recorded in the North Island. The first moa footprints were discovered in 1866 (Gisborne, in the North Island).

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Apart from Otago Museum staff, many other people and entities were involved with the finding, removal and preservation of the moa footprints.

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More information, photos and links are available at this previous post I did May 10, 2019:   Moa Footprints Discovery

For the record, we viewed the footprints on Sun 24 Nov 2019. They were unveiled on Wed 20 Nov.


Text and photos by Liz; Exploring Colour (2019)

11 thoughts on “Moa Footprints On Display

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  1. This is a great find and also an argument for studying everything around us. One might think that after all these years and all the explorations we’d have found most evidence of prior life yet finds like this happen occasionally. We should figuratively leave no stone unturned.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thankfully some things stay hidden under or in rocks, gravel, dirt, mud, etc and only become visible after some event enables them to be seen. It’s just amazing to me how things like this can happen!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for sharing this fascinating account of the discovery. Frustratingly we visited Dunedin about 10 days ago as part of our road-trip from the UK, but only had time to go to the Toitu Settlers Museum and so missed out on the footprints. I’m still writing up my blog of our trip ( https://newzealandplatypus.wordpress.com/) and, when I get to Dunedin, I’ll link to your post … probably under a heading of “the one that got away.” I’m tempted to say I’ll leap straight on a plane and fly back to see what we missed, but in view of the horrendous jet lag I’ve got right now, maybe not! Best wishes, and thanks again for your post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My pleasure, you’re very welcome. The footprints were only unveiled on Wed 20 Nov but they’re sure to be there next time you visit Dunedin! We visited on Sun 24 Nov.

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