Stonehenge Aotearoa, New Zealand


We just post them–we don’t try to pronounce them.

This is one of the big permanent Stonehenge replicas scattered about the globe. The original press release said: “A modern day version of the 4000-year-old English monument as it might have been, had it been built in the Southern hemisphere, Stonehenge Aotearoa, is backed by the New Zealand Government and Royal Society of the New Zealand, and is the brain child of members of the Phoenix Astronomical Society.”

New Zealand publisher Mary Varnham says in its defense, “I’ve been to both it and the original Stonehenge in Britain and there’s no contest: Stonehenge Aotearoa is by far the most interesting experience.” We can’t say, as we’ve only been to the original, but it no doubt depends on what you’re interested in.

Kudos to its builders for attention to astronomy and for a neat, clean presentation. For what it actually is, it could hardly be better, but as we rate things as Stonehenge replicas on this blog, and it skips the inner trilithons and many other aspects of the original, we’re giving it six druids. If we were Kiwis, though, we would definitely plan a visit!

4 thoughts on “Stonehenge Aotearoa, New Zealand

  1. Dave, First, thank you for the pronunciation, a subject I’d contemplated on several occasions. And for all the other information. I can’t speak for the pinot noirs but it happens that I had a Martinborough sauvignon blanc very recently and enjoyed it enough to make a note to have it again.

    Again, if you have pictures and are able to master the art of sending them through teh intertubes, we would love to see and possibly post them.

    And of course if you rack up any more SH replica visits, we want to hear about it! All the best, Nancy

  2. A few months ago, I had a most enjoyable visit to Stonehenge Aotearoa (pronounced phonetically: A – O – Tay – Ah – Row – Ah, it’s the Maori name for New Zealand. It means “land of the long white cloud,” very apt for the oft-rainy nation).

    When I used to live in Wellington, NZ, I had the great fortune of being a student of Stonehenge designers Richard Hall and Kay Leather (at Carter Observatory). After being away for five years, I returned to NZ for a visit, and one of my stops was to visit them at Stonehenge Aotearoa.

    Stonehenge Aotearoa is, in a word, brilliant. The small visitors’ center is packed with informative displays and a video that teaches you about how the site works as an observatory, about observing the night sky in New Zealand, and about Maori astronomy and creation legends.

    From there you walk outside to the site, 30 meters away. It’s well-maintained, beautifully decorated, and (of course) perfectly aligned to the sky there in the lower North Island.

    (For vacation planners: the site is located several kilometers east of the main road through the Wairarapa region, but the way is well-signed. Also, the nearby rural towns of Carterton, Masterton, and Martinborough are worth a visit. Masterton is home of the annual Golden Shears competition, NZ’s seriously competitive sheep-shearing contest. Martinborough is home of some of the most delicious Pinot Noirs you’ll ever taste.

    In one day, I was able to travel from Napier, on the East Coast, down to Wellington with PLENTY of time for a visit to Stonehenge Aotearoa and six wineries in Martinborough. I left Napier around 9:30 AM and arrived in Wellington around 8:00 PM.)

    Do not miss the chance to talk to Richard and Kay and to pick up one of their books. They weave together modern and Maori astronomy, explain how the Polynesians used astronomical, meteorological, and oceanographic clues to explore the wide Pacific Ocean, and tell how many of the legends known to all of us are actually astronomical events in disguise (e.g., the Star of Bethlehem = a rare astronomical conjunction).

    My year studying with Richard and Kay was one of the most fascinating times of my life, and I hope any of Clonehenge’s readers who get a chance to travel down under will experience that same thrill at Stonehenge Aotearoa.

  3. Thank you! I will definitely post this. I have other computer reproductions in my files and am contemplating how to present them.

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