'Elephant Rock' in Taranaki truncated

10:37 am on 5 December 2016

Part of an iconic rock formation in Taranaki, known as Elephant Rock, has collapsed, with the elephant's 'trunk' completely wiped out.

A trunk-less Elephant Rock.

Elephant Rock as it now appears. Photo: Supplied / Mike Brown

The rock in the shape of an elephant is located near the Three Sisters in Tongaporutu, which is about an hour's drive north from New Plymouth.

Jan Brown and her husband Mike live about 400m from the rock and can see it from their living room.

Over the weekend she noticed that almost half of the rock had fallen off.

"The whole trunk and the head has fallen off, so now we've got essentially a staple shape without a trunk, so it's not Elephant Rock anymore."

Elephant Rock

Elephant Rock before it collapsed. Photo: 123rf.com

She believed the rockfall may have been linked to the magnitude 7.8 Kaikōura earthquake last month, which was also felt in the Taranaki region.

"The Kaikōura quake was very severe here too, so that could account for shaking the rock loose."

It was blow for the visitors who come to see the rock, along with the locals who adored it, she said.

"It's quite devastating really, because we've all grown up with Elephant Rock and we've noticed in recent years there's been a great upsurge in interest because of the Three Sisters. One of those subsided and then a new cousin was born out of the land, so we're back to three sisters, so that's caused quite a lot of tourist activity.

"Then alongside that, Elephant Rock has been really taking a light of its own, and there's probably been as much interest in Elephant Rock as there has been in the Three Sisters because it's such an iconic rock and such a beautiful elephant shape.

"It's quite devastating that this has happened."