On the northern coastline of New Zealand’s South Island is a geological wonder that is world renowned, traditionally called Split-Apple Rock due to its appearance as a giant sliced apple.

Author: Martin Doutre

Ask yourself a question!

What are the chances of a 250 ton block of stone being honed by ice into a near perfectly round megalith and then being deposited onto a bed of similarly incongruous granite boulders. Through a natural phenomenon known as ‘ice wedging’ during an ice age over 120 million years ago it is split perfectly down the middle. That both halves ‘accidentally’ set in a perfect V formation and that by simple chance those sections align perfectly to mark the ancient astronomical calendar.

Just what are the chances?

Astonishing as this is, we’re asked to believe this version by The Machine.

Traditional Māori legend claims the boulder was split in half when two feuding gods were fighting to possess it. To resolve the issue, they used their strength to split the rock in half, hence the Māori name for the rock Toka Ngawhā which means “burst open rock”.

We prefer the notion that Split Apple is somehow set intentionally.


As with every other ancient wonder, we have no idea!

The giant boulder, given its height and fairly symmetrical round shape of about 18-feet in diameter, could weigh as much as 238 imperial tons (242 metric tonnes).

It appears to sit on a boulder pile composed of similarly high quality, hard granite components, whereas the general material of the surrounding area is of a softer or more-flaky composition, totally unlike the split-apple boulder or the platform boulders upon which it is cradled and housed.

The evidence suggests very strongly that this is not a natural geological stack, but a purpose built one to serve an important astronomical and calendar function.  

A stock photo from the Internet shows just how immense this granite boulder actually is. Remarkably, there appear to be little or no similar examples of large, dense granite boulders strewn about anywhere within view, as one would reasonably expect to find.

The general terrain of the area is predominantly a composite rock, made up of many varying elements. It is semi-hard and durable but quite crumbly under pressure and could never be used for making stone blocks. Whereas the incredibly hard granite found on the split-apple boulder was formed from molten magma under tremendous pressure far beneath the Earth’s crust, the immediate-vicinity, local terrain is seemingly devoid of any known deposits of similar material.

The giant split boulder sits on a boulder pile platform-island that does not appear to be a natural rock up-thrust, but more like a purpose built, piled-up structure of high quality, durable support boulders. The giant Split-Apple also seems to be locked into position by chock boulders to underpin, cradle and stabilise the two giant halves firmly into a set position and orientation.

The split boulder forms a gun sight-type “V” that points accurately at the vertical, lower edge of the sea-cliff 330-feet away (100 metres), at an angle approaching 59.5-60 degrees azimuth.

From the beach viewing position, one visually aligns the base of the split-apple “V” with the vertical edge of the cliff to form an accurate alignment onto the winter solstice, first-glint sunrise position. The sun, rising on a slight diagonal to the left (North), then climbs the edge of the cliff to launch itself into the sky from the cliff top. From the position of observation at beach level the sea horizon conjuncts perfectly with the base of the “V” and first-glint of the sun occurs low in the “V”.

The winter solstice sun climbing the cliff edge. The first-glint position seen at the base of the “V” represents the most northerly position the rising sun will move to in its annual journey up and down the eastern sea horizon and distant land-masses.


Whereas the sun rises at 59.5-60 degrees azimuth at the time of the Winter Solstice, at the Autumnal (March 21st) and Vernal (September 21st) equinoxes it rises at 90-degrees. To accurately witness the two annual equinox events through the Split-Apple “V” one moves to a more westerly position of the beach. By viewing through the “V” to ranges across the sea situated at 90-degrees azimuth, the exact day of the equinox can be accurately fixed.

At this point of the beach viewing position the “V” in Split-Apple Rock is half diminished in depth, but still highly visible and exploitable for cradling the equinoctial sun’s orb. In the much magnified background is seen the distant range across the water, where the sun rises from a peak 1800-feet high (550 metres).

The equinoctial sun cradled in the base of the “V” after rising from behind the distant range. It then moves upwards into the morning sky on a slight diagonal to the north.

It is very apparent that Split-Apple Rock works perfectly as a solar observatory for both the winter Solstice and equinoxes. It would also work fine for the summer solstice sunrise (120-degrees) fix as well, although the “V” would be much diminished and represented only by a small trough in the crown of the boulder, as seen from the observer’s position on the beach.

French, Italian and New Zealand observers watch the equinoctial sun’s orb rise from the Split-Apple “V”, with cameras rolling to record the event.


On the occasion of the 2019 autumn equinox for the Southern Hemisphere a super moon rose almost exactly on the equinox line. This was a rare event not to be missed.

On the evening of the equinox the super moon rose through the “V” of the Split-Apple very close to the solar equinox rise position and is seen here cradled in the “V”.

The super moon of the 2019 equinox ascending upwards to the north to break free of the Split-Apple “V”.

This extreme northern position along the shoreline is where one would need to be in order to observe the summer solstice for the Southern Hemisphere, using Split-Apple Rock as the outer marker. The “V” aspect of the boulder is much-diminished to only a concave trough, but would be sufficient for a finite fix on the sunrise. Alternatively, the right-hand base of the boulder could be used to capture “first-glint” of the sun on the horizon, followed by its diagonal climb up the edge of the boulder to the trough position.

On this line of sight, just above the beach, is a wide assembly flat-area where ancient people could once have gathered for their summer solstice festivities. That expansive piece of terrain has not been subjected to modern-day machine modifications, as there would be no access due to steep hills behind.

These are the 3 positions along the beach where ancient astronomer-priests would stand to witness the significant, annual solar days using the Split-Apple outer-marker, and, thus, have the ability to keep their 365.25-day calendars completely correct.

The Great Pyramid is 51.5 degrees – can this be just another co-incidence?

It seems obligatory that ancient savants would have marked the beach sighting positions with boulders or post markers, but centuries of storms and surging seas have now eradicated those positions. There is however one incised bolder left on the old track near the assembly area for the summer solstice.

This ancient wayside track marker near the assembly plateau has 3 deeply incised lines running almost horizontally parallel, as well as a diagonal crossing line. It possibly relates to the Split-Apple observatory and its function, where the summer solstice, equinox and winter solstice sightings take place. Incised boulders on track ways, like this, are encountered throughout New Zealand and seem to have served the function of directional markers that conveyed information for the ancient wayfarer.


‘Almost all the area enclosed by the boundaries of the National Park is comprised of the grey-white Separation Point granite, which is thought to be about 100 million years old
(Thomas 1969: 1).
There are few places where the quality of the rock is good enough for large blocks to stand quarrying without shattering (Dennis 1985: 68).
Outcrops of marble on the Pikikiruna Range and granite at Tonga, Adele Island and Torrent Bay have been quarried for building stone (Henderson 1959: 23).’

The nearest source of supply for high quality granite durable enough to withstand the ever-present lashing of stormy seas was, seemingly, Adele Island 3-miles across the water to the NNE, whereas there’s nothing in the offering immediately adjacent around the beach or cliffs where split apple rock sits on its platform.

It seems obligatory that the source of supply was Tonga Island or its adjacent mainland coast, 10-miles further up the coast, where the quality of the stone was such that it gave rise to the establishment of a quarrying business.
Stone from this quarry was used to build the New Zealand Parliament and Chief Post Office buildings in Wellington, as well as other stately public buildings in Nelson as elsewhere.

The ancient corona or halo glyph associated with many sun god depictions, spanning several civilisations, is most certainly seen to be hovering over the clearly incised Split Apple Rock glyph. Incised lines point to the “V” of the glyph or to the Split-Apple side. Given the immense effort and accomplishment to move the two halves of the boulder 10-miles down the coast and set it up on a platform of equally high quality granite boulders, it’s little wonder the ancient astronomer-sun-worshippers would want to immortalise their accomplishment with this petroglyph at or near the site where the immense boulder originated.