New Zealand Post - official issuer of New Zealand stamps & commemorative coins

1991 Scenic Wonders

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This stamp issue depicts the monuments to the dramatic geographical events which shaped New Zealand.

Issue information

For hundreds of millions of years the enormous pressure created by the movement of the continental plates has been shaping and changing New Zealand's landscape, creating spectacular indicators of the turmoil beneath the earth's crust. These astonishing rock formations were the subject of the 1991 'Scenic Wonders' issue.

Product listing for 1991 Scenic Wonders

Click on image to enlarge.

Image Title Description Price
Single Stamp

Single 40c 'Punakaiki Rocks' gummed stamp.

Layers and layers of limestone pancakes - the Punakaiki Rocks, also known as 'Pancake Rocks', are situated at Dolomite Point, 48kms north of Greymouth on the West Coast of the South Island. The solid pillars, consisting of alternating layers of limestone and softer rock were formed about 50 million years ago. Since then, the unrelenting assault of the Tasman Sea has eroded away all the layers of soft rock, leaving the harder layers of limestone projecting. The resulting rock formations look like giant stacks of pancakes. Visitors to Punakaiki find themselves witnessing dramatic sights and sounds as the waves rolling in to the coast crash through chambers and erupt through blowholes which have been carved by the sea. These 'special effects' are particularly striking in a westerly wind.

Single Stamp

Single 50c 'Moeraki Boulders' gummed stamp.

Maori legend provides an explanation for the origin of the mysterious Moeraki Boulders on Koekohe Beach in North Otago. It tells of the loss of the Arai-te-uru, a legendary sailing canoe from the island of Hawaiki. Travelling south in search of precious greenstone, Arai-te-uru capsized near Shag Point reef and her crew was lost. The canoe's petrified hull became the reef and a nearby rock is the body of Arai-te-uru's commander. Eel baskets, calabashes and kumara washed ashore from the wreck and were transformed into the giant Moeraki Boulders. However, the scientific explanation for the origin of the Moeraki Boulders is simply that they have been weathered out of the siltstone from the sea cliff.

Single Stamp

Single 80c 'Organ Pipes' gummed stamp.

Monolithic organ pipes straining heavenward - The Organ Pipes are situated on the slopes of Mount Holmes, in the volcanic hills which surround Dunedin. These incredible columns of rock were formed about 10 million years ago when lava flowed across the summit of Mount Holmes, hardening and exerting tension in both vertical and horizontal directions. The tension was relieved by cracking which formed the distinctive shapes of the organ pipes. Geologists explain that the lava cooled at different rates in different places, creating the varying diameters and heights of the pipes.

Single Stamp

Single $1.00 'Castle Hill' gummed stamp.

Carved by the onslaught of the elements - Castle Hill rises almost 1000 metres above the surrounding countryside, a distinctive landmark on the harsh, rocky landscape of central Canterbury. Castle Hill's dramatic contours were formed by complex folding of the earth's outer crust (or Tertiary strata) as a result of the movement beneath it. Prevailing winds and driving rainwater have weathered the limestone and scoured deep grooves out of the hillside.

Single Stamp

Single $1.50 'Te Kaukau Point' gummed stamp.

45 degrees South - In extreme contrast to the rolling pastures of inland Wairarapa, the southeast coastline of the district is harsh and rugged. One of the most dramatic formations is Te Kaukau Point, located at the mouth of the Opouawe River. The heavily scarred and layered cliffs have been forced into their present 45 degree angle by enormous geological upheaval. From its highest point the formation drops abruptly for 90 metres to a broad ledge near sea level.

Single Stamp

Single $1.80 'Ahuriri River Clay Cliffs' gummed stamp.

Jagged clay pinnacles honed by water erosion - On the main road to Lindis Pass, about 10 kilometres south of Omarama in the Mackenzie Basin, are the Ahuriri River Clay Cliffs. The extraordinary cliffs were formed from glacier gravel and river silt deposits which were later forced 100m upward by an earthquake fault. Their elegant pinnacles are gradually reformed each time the Ahuriri River floods and the water runs down the cliff face in narrow streams. As the pinnacles to the front are eroded away, the cliff behind them weathers to form new pinnacles. In this way the Ahuriri River Clay Cliffs are slowly but surely retreating westward.

First Day Cover  First day cover with stamps affixed. Cancelled on first day of issue $6.25

Technical information

Date of issue: 12 June 1991
Designers: Hamish Thompson, Wellington, NZ
Printer: Leigh Mardon, Australia
Denominations: 40c, 50c, 80c, $1.00, $1.50 & $1.80
Stamp size: 35mm x 29.4mm (horizontal)
Sheet size: 100 stamps per sheet
Process: Lithography
Perforation gauge: 14.28
Paper type: Harrison red phosphor coated, unwatermarked
Period of sale: These stamps rermained on sale until 12 June 1992.