Off the northern coast of the S. Island of New Zealand is Tokangawhā aka Split Apple Rock, a geological rock formation in Tasman Bay. This popular tourist attraction was officially given the name “Split Apple Rock” in 1988, and is a point of interest for many tourists. The granite rock, in the shape of an apple (go figure) appears to be cut in half. This naturally occurring attraction is estimated to be over 120 million years old and was formed by water that made its way into a crevice and froze during an ice age, expanding and thus splitting the stone in half.

Traditional Māori legend Claims the boulder was split by two feuding gods who were fighting to possess it.

Eventually, they used their godlike strength to split it in half. The Māori name for the rock Tokangawhā, means “burst open rock.”

beach split apple rock
On a sunny day the water is an ombré of shimmering turquoise, lime, navy, and soft tan powdered sand with the occasional black volcanic sand layer.

Approximately 50 meters off the coast between Kaiteriteri and Marahua, I hop from rock to rock making sure not to get my shoes wet or to get stuck in the crevices where small crabs, cat’s eye snails, mussels, and other crustaceans stick around. I make my way around the cove to get a better view of the pied cormorants / shags who all huddle together and sunbathe on the backside of the rock. The females swoop up the side of the cliff and feed their chicks, in nests in the trees above.

split apple rock
Cormorants sunbathing
Tunnels carved out by the tide over time create pathways. Cut through to the other side of the cove to get a closer to Split Apple Rock.


Split Apple Rock is just a short 5 minute hike (downhill). Depending on the tide (either low or high) one can explore more along the shore and even get a closer look at the rock. It’s really cool to just sit on the beach and think of different scenarios as to how the rock ended up looking the way it does. I feel like it was perfectly karate-chopped or knifed by a massive Maori-God giant. Or struck by lightning. One’s imagination can run wild relaxing and lackadaisically strolling along the beach.




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