Close up of a section of the Kaimanawa Wall

The Mysterious Kaimanawa Wall: Man-made megalithic structure or work of nature?

The Kaimanawa Wall is a large stone structure in the Kaimanawa Forest near Lake Taupo, New Zealand. At first glance, the wall looks like it has been constructed from rectangular stone blocks judging by the clearly visible horizontal and vertical lines. But was it actually made by humans or did it form through nature?

When my father told me he and Mum were intending to make a trip to Taupo to climb Mount Tauhara, I was eager to join them and take a small detour to see the wall with my own eyes. Dad had mentioned the wall in the past and even visited it once before. Having a keen interest in ancient history and in particular, stone ruins, I was curious to investigate the mysterious structure.

If it were man-made, that would lead to a lot of exciting questions:

How old was it? Who made it? Maori? Pre-Maori people? Why was it built? Why here?

Journey to the wall

December 2004. It was the Christmas holidays. Dad, Mum and I drove from Wellington to stay a couple of nights in the town of Taupo.

The next day we climbed Mount Tauhara and the day after we finally went to visit the wall.

The wall is on Clements Mill Road

South east of Lake Taupo lies the Kaimanawa Forest. We drove about 12 km down the bumpy and narrow Clements Mill Road. Unmarked and on the left, sat the lonely wall.

Seeing it first-hand, the lines joining the blocks are remarkably straight, both vertically and horizontally. The wall is partially covered with moss and on top of it lies a few feet of soil and a large tree.

I’m no expert, but the stone blocks certainly do look man-made and not something that would be produced on its own by nature. I’ve been fortunate to travel around much of New Zealand, yet have seen nothing else like this in the country.

Looking back now, the wall does have some similarities to the ahu — stone platforms, I’ve seen on Easter Island.

A stone platform (ahu) at Vinapu, Easter Island


We spent a good half-hour or so examining the wall and even removed a few inches of soil at the base to see if it continued much farther down. It did. Deeper than we were prepared to dig.

In between two of the blocks on the right side of the wall was a small crevice. It was too dark to see inside, but I was able to point my camera into the opening and illuminate it with the flash.

The rear of the gap is flat
The corner jutting out has a thin shadow on it where the block in front rests flush against it

As you can see from the pictures, the stones maintain their block like appearance inside the gap in the wall.

So is it man-made?

Hmmmmm, the Indiana Jones kid in me would love to say YES! But. I’m not sure. I’m still undecided. There wasn’t quite enough evidence for me to categorically exclaim that this indeed man-made! On the other hand, I’m still not discounting that as a possibility.

I’d love to see the site excavated. Remove the tree. Remove its tangled roots. Scrape away the soil so that we can see the wall in its entirety. Then photograph and video it. Share it on the Internet.

Did mother nature create it?

If it isn’t man-made, then barring aliens and time travelling robots from the future, it must have formed naturally.

According to The Encyclopedia of New Zealand:

“the wall is a natural phenomenon. The blocks are fractures that appeared as the rock cooled, over 330,000 years ago.”

However, comments on that page are of decidedly mixed opinion:

Forgiving the poor spelling, there are some interesting points there.

The mystery remains

It’s been twelve years since my parents and I visited the wall. After spending a few hours googling, it came as a surprise, that in all this time, even with an excavation supposedly having taken place. There isn’t a definitive explanation on the Internet answering the questions and settling the debate. Actually, there is still very little information about the wall at all.

While knowledge of the wall hasn’t progressed much in these dozen years, technology certainly has! I’d like to visit the site again and bring better equipment along.

If it fits, inserting a GoPro camera attached to a monopod while shining a torch, into the crevice would give us a different view. Who knows? Wide-angle pictures and video from a few different angles might reveal something.

Finally. Man-made or natural. What do you think?

Have you been to the wall? Write your thoughts below. Even if you haven’t visited it. I’m interested to know what others think about the origin of this wall.

If you enjoyed this article please clap and share, it would mean a lot to me. For more travel & history stories, pictures and videos, follow me on Medium & Instagram and subscribe to my YouTube channel.