“TUMBLESTONETWO” [Under Construction]


Note: Scroll down past this Post to see the most recent Posts from TumbleStone Blog, such as Index to “Southern Sojourn 2023” Series: Part One, Posts 1 to 12, Picking Up Stones While Walking the Puppy: Kai Iwi Beach, and Online Access to “Gemstones” by Jocelyn Thornton (1985).

“TumbleStoneTwo” is a website within a blog, “TumbleStone Blog”. The website’s home page is always the first post when someone goes onto the blog. Links are then made from there to other blog posts masquerading as website pages. The titles of these website pages start with “TS2” and have the TumbleStoneTwo banner at the top. This is a Companion Site to TumbleStone Blog but presents information in a more systematic way. Author: John Paterson, Whanganui, New Zealand, email john.tumblestone@gmail.com

THIS SITE IS STILL UNDER CONSTRUCTION. Pages will be added from time to time. Pages will also be up-dated or expanded. See LIST OF CONTENTS TO DATE for information on which Pages are “live”.

The information on this website is based on the firsthand experiences and research of John Paterson, a retired academic in New Zealand. I have been collecting beach stones and tumble-polishing them since March 2016, which was also when I started TumbleStone Blog.

Note that the coverage of this website is very limited. Only a few beaches in the South Island are included, because of my familiarity with them. Beaches on the West Coast of the South Island, in the Nelson region, and in the North Island, are not included. Only the stones I have familiarity with will be covered, and it is the rotary tumble-polishing method that is featured.

By early 2022, my Blog had grown too large for people to find easily some of the more useful information in it. And so TumbleStoneTwo, a new website, was born, initially to provide links to Blog Posts within a more accessible website-like framework. New information too will appear on TumbleStoneTwo.

My approach to beach localities and fossicking is similar to that of four books I am familiar with. The first is Bill Myatt’s (1972) “Australian and New Zealand Gemstones: How and Where to Find Them”. Pages 431 to 445 of Myatt’s book consist of a New Zealand section written by Mrs A. Niethe, detailing fossicking places in the different regions. Information is also provided about transport links and accommodation. The second book is Natalie Fernandez’s (1981) “The New Zealand Rockhound”. Her “Locations” chapter (pages 91-122) lists a multitude of places and the main types of stones to be found there.

The third book is Jocelyn Thornton’s (1985) “Gemstones”. This includes sections on seven beach areas, with photos of stones of interest to the stone polisher (accessible online here). Finally, James Crampton and Maianna Terezow’s (2010) book, “The Kiwi Fossil Hunter’s Handbook”, though about fossils rather than stones in general, has 27 chapters on localities for fossil hunting in New Zealand. They provide an excellent set of information for each locality, its geographical and geological contexts, and its fossils. TumbleStoneTwo aims to provide useful information for fossickers about a small number of New Zealand beaches and their stones.

There are three Main Sections to the TumbleStoneTwo website:


Three supplementary Main Pages are:


Southern Sojourn 2023(28): A “Canyoned” Green Quartzite from Gemstone Beach, Friday 24 March

I had a three and a half hour fossick yesterday on the Te Waewae Bay coast west of Gemstone Beach. I was there between low and mid-tide, looking for stones to tumble-polish, accompanied by Chrissy (who had invited me to fossick at The Cliffs last Saturday). She had visited Gemstone Beach before but had not ventured beyond the section in front of the carpark.

We initially walked west to the Waimeamea River before beginning to fossick. We then spent quite a bit of time on a good patch of stones close to the river mouth before slowly working our way back to the carpark. There were very few hydrogrossular garnets around, and no poppy jaspers. But we found a few trace fossil stones and a variety of colourful and patterned stones. Eight of my finds are featured below.

The first is the one I find the most interesting, what could be referred to as a “canyoned quartzite” – when seen up close, the clear silica veins could be deep narrow canyons in a green landscape. The stone is 5 cm long and 3 cm high.

The two largest stones are both dark in colour but have very interesting hues and details up close.

Three of the remaining stones are shades of green, from the presence of epidote maybe. The first below has some stress fractures in it. the Other two contain brecciations, some of them very tiny.

The last two stones are small colourful ones. The smattering of pink caught my eye in the first one, the contrasting white quartz and dark other material in the second one.

The first Post in the “Southern Sojourn 2023” Series is here. The Index to the Series is here.

Southern Sojourn 2023(27): Dry & Wet, Cloudy & Sunny – Low Tide Fossick, Wednesday 22 March

This Post is partly about the conditions under which stones are photographed. I had two days off from fossicking – one day to recover my energy after Sunday’s tiring activities and one day when the wind and rain were discouraging. In fact, we had quite a storm from Monday night through to Tuesday noon. I spent two hours on the beach on Wednesday morning, arriving at the Gemstone Beach carpark about 90 minutes after low tide. There had been a few rain showers on the drive there and the temperature was nine degrees, and only one other car was there at the time of my arrival. However, during my fossick, there was very little wind and only a couple of very light showers, and I soon warmed up. There was a bit more driftwood than usual on the beach, especially at the high tide line.

The Taunoa Stream, near the carpark, was only a little higher than usual, and had become quite braided as it flowed across the beach. This meant it was shallow enough to cross easily. However, further along the beach, the Waimeamea River was too high to ford. In between the two, there were lots of wet stones on the beach, including these 12. Wednesday afternoon was too cloudy for good photos to be taken of the stones so I took them in the sunshine on Thursday afternoon.

For this Post I took some photos of the stones while they were dry to show how dull they look compared to when wet. Often a hint of their colour and patterns is there, but only when wet and in the sun do the glorious details become clear. The first three stones include trace fossils. Stone 1 has a black trace.

Stone 2 is a breccia of argillite fragments, one of the fragments containing two small trace fossils. Stone 3 is a small (2 cm long) stone with red trace fossils.

Stone 4 is a nice shiny banded argillite. Stone 5 may also be banded argillite but the “bands” have been pushed around significantly. Stone 6 is an interesting whitish quartzite with some fascinating patterns.

Stones 7 and 8 are both pink thulites. Stone 7 is very smooth – most thulites I have seen are more like the “bumpy” Stone 8. Stone 9 is a fascinating green stone that, upon closer inspection, proves to be very complex in its composition.

The white “spots” in Stone 10 caught my eye on the beach. Green stones are common on Gemstone Beach and Stone 11 is one such with interesting bands. Stone 12 has flashes of white amid a number of other colours.

I initially took photos of the stones under clouds but I was not satisfied with their quality so waited a day for some sunshine. On a cloudy day, the photos tend to be less clearly focused so that the close-ups, produced by cropping, are less clear. Furthermore, it is much harder to reduce reflections under clouds. Four examples of the differences below, with the photos taken in sunshine lying below the photos taken under cloudy conditions (please note, the close-ups are not always directly comparable):

The next Post in the “Southern Sojourn 2023” Series features a green Gemstone Beach quartzite crisscrossed with silica canyons. The first Post in the Series is here and the Index to the Series is here.

Index to “Southern Sojourn 2023” Series: Part Two, Posts 13 to 24

These Posts contain the record of an extended time of fossicking while I am based in Riverton Aparima in Southland. Part One of the Index can be found here. If you click on the title of a Post, you will be taken there. The photos above each title/link give you an idea of some of the stones that feature in that Post.


13) “Big Wave, My Friend” – Gemstone Beach, Saturday 11 February


14) Fine Weather Fossicking, Gemstone Beach, Monday 13 February


15) “Amazing Beautiful Gemstones”, Gemstone Beach, Tuesday 14 February


16) A Productive Fossick, Gemstone Beach, Thursday 16 February


17) Wet Gumboots and Light Reflections, Gemstone Beach, Friday 17 February


18) “The Tattooed Rock, The Trace Fossils…” Revisiting Gemstone Beach’s Trace Fossil Stones, February 2023


19) High Tide Fossick, Gemstone Beach, Saturday 18 February


20) First Identified in New Zealand in 1943 – Revisiting the Hydrogrossular Garnets of Gemstone Beach, February 2023


21) Final Fossick Before Break, Gemstone Beach, Sunday 19 February


22) Back to Gemstone Beach! Wednesday 15 March


23) Two Hours on Gemstone Beach, Thursday 16 March


24) Bordering on Madness! Wet Weather Fossick on Gemstone Beach, Friday 17 March


This Series is continuing, and Part Three of this Index will be constructed later.

Index to “Southern Sojourn 2023” Series: Part One, Posts 1 to 12

In mid-January 2023, I gained access to an accommodation base in Riverton Aparima in Southland for a few weeks, possibly a few months. So my tumble polishers in Whanganui became silent and, after a period of six months without fossicking, my focus changed. I crossed Cook Strait by ferry on Tuesday 17 January 2023 to begin this Southern Sojourn. In this Index, you can click on a link to be taken to the relevant Post. The photos above each link give you an idea of some of the stones that feature in that Post.


1) The Trip South – Wednesday 18 January, Ward Beach and Leithfield Beach


2) The Trip South – Thursday 19 January, Timaru South


3) The Trip South – Friday 20 January, Kakanui


4) First Fossick at Gemstone Beach, Sunday 22 January


5) Slope Point, Two Visits, Monday & Tuesday 23 & 24 January


6) Two Visits to Gemstone Beach, Friday & Monday 27 & 30 January


7) Gemstone Beach Fossick, Wednesday 1 February


8) Big and Small from Gemstone Beach, Friday 3 February


9) Eleven Stones from Gemstone Beach, Saturday 4 February


10) Foam and Stones, Gemstone Beach, Tuesday 7 February


11) Waimeamea River Obstacle, Gemstone Beach, Thursday 9 February


12) Surprises and Revelations, Gemstone Beach, Friday 10 February


Part Two of this Index is available here.

Southern Sojourn 2023(26): Delightful Discoveries, Desperate De-pants-ing, and Dramatic Drenchings on Gemstone Beach, Sunday 19 March

On a cloudy blustery afternoon, I spent 3 ½ hours on the Te Waewae Bay beach, starting off at the Gemstone Beach carpark at noon. Despite the unattractive weather, there were quite a few people there, many of them probably passing tourists driving the Southern Scenic Route, Highway 99. It was a dramatic afternoon. One of the first things I witnessed was a family on the edge of the Taunoa Stream getting swamped to their knees as a wave surged into it. It quickly became clear that there was a lot of energy in those waves today – they were surging further up the beach than usual and at greater speed.

The waves had given the stones a good stirring-up and had gouged out scallop-shaped dips along the stony beach. There seemed to be more interesting stones showing than normal, and there was enough sunlight around to help illuminate them quite well. So I had probably my most productive fossick so far this year – these are the “delightful discoveries”. The “de-pants-ing” happened when I reached a swollen Waimeamea River and desperately wanted to get across to continue my fossicking. I needed to take off my gumboots, socks and jeans as the water in the centre of the channel came above my knees. So far, so good. When I eventually decided to turn around, I was feeling pleased that I had avoided being swamped by any wave. That quickly changed as first one then, a few minutes later, another wave caught me at the end of their surge up the beach, my “dramatic drenchings”. It wasn’t the depth but the speed of the dying waves that brought the water up over the top of my gumboots. Then it happened again as I was about to re-cross the river! I left my gumboots wet, and and my pants on, for this crossing.

When I eventually got back to the carpark, with a heavy backpack, I had an interesting chat with John, a fellow North Islander who is early in his fossicking career and thinking about tumble polishing. He had been in the Slope Point area and had seen petrified wood from there. I happened to have some of my polished Gemstone Beach and Slope Point stones in my car (I had taken them to show Chrissy the day before) so we had spent some time discussing those. I left him with a couple of hydrogrossular garnets I had found today, along with my TumbleStone Blog card.

This Post feature 16 of my finds, in the order of my personal preferences. My most favourite today is the smallest of the 16 stones, a tiny orbicular (“poppy”) hematite jasper, just 2 cm long. Its orbs are the most interesting I have seen so far among the small poppy jaspers I have found on this beach.

Next is the second smallest stone whose intense purple hues caught my eye on the beach. Close inspection showed some brecciation of white material in it.

Third on the list is a stone that has a good deal of visual interest but what struck me most when I picked it up is how smooth it feels. The photos later revealed a lot of different details in the stone.

The largest stone, 6 cm long, is one of my favourite types. There is a lacelike pattern of coloured threads in it that I find fascinating.

The following stone amazed me because of the density and diversity of fragments of which it is composed. It looks like masses of tiny bits of different argillites have been squashed together. It stood out on the beach because of the multiple shades of green, the photos revealing fragments of white and dark grey as well.

Sixth and seventh are stones that the close-up photos revealed to be much more interesting and complex than expected. The sixth is a dark stone that raised my curiosity when I spotted it because of the vague light markings on it. It was only as I worked with the close-up photos that I could see something interesting was going on to produce those markings. The subtle and varied colours of the seventh also appealed to me and the close-up unexpectedly revealed lots of tiny white specks.

The following four stones all claimed my attention for different reasons. I love the subtle colours and patterns in the quartzite, I love the dramatic colours of the dark red and white, I love the seeming brittleness of the smooth green-hued quartz, and I love the quirkiness of the intrusive differently coloured and patterned inclusion.

The last five stones all can in some way be found along this part of the Te Waewae Bay coast. The first is a stone with orbs – a range of orbed and spotted stones appear here (see this Post for examples). Secondly, breccia can also be found here (as this Post shows). The beach is know for hydrogrossular garnets (the third stone below – see this Post for more) though they can at times be elusive, and some types are particularly hard to find. I usually spot a couple of banded argillites when I fossick here (the fourth stone below), some of them quite shiny and smooth but others more coarse. Finally, the beach is also known for its trace fossil stones, of different shapes and colours (see here).

After the exertions and trials of today, I’m taking tomorrow off to recuperate!

The next Post in the “Southern Sojourn 2023” Series features 12 stones from a low tide fossick at Gemstone Beach and also comments on aspects of photography of stones. The first Post in this Series is here and the Index to the Series is here.

Southern Sojourn 2023(25): Fossicking with Chrissy at The Cliffs, Papatotara, on Te Waewae Bay, Saturday 18 March

Today I got the chance to fossick on a part of the beach to the west of the Waiau River. The Waiau flows into Te Waewae Bay about 12 kilometres to the west of Gemstone Beach (see maps below). The Bay is located on the coast of Foveaux Strait, Southland, and its long sweep is 27 kms in length. It stretches from Monkey Island in the southeast (the location of a freedom camping site) to its far end (beyond the start of the Hump Ridge Track) in the northwest. Gemstone Beach is located towards the southeast end, about 7 kilometres from Monkey Island. The Waiau River is roughly in the middle.

For more on Te Waewae Bay from a fossicker’s point of view, see this TumbleStoneTwo Post.

Chrissy lives at The Cliffs, Papatotara, an interesting rural subdivision of smallholdings. She learned much of her tumble polishing from my blog about a year ago. She invited me to a fossick on the beach below her home and I was very pleased to accept. After a great cup of coffee and much comparing of polished stones, Chrissy, Ohla (her dog) and I spent a couple of hours on the beach. There were lots of stones there, though not quite the diversity of Gemstone Beach and just a little less smooth than most Gemstone Beach material. They reminded me a lot of the kind of stones to be found on the beaches of Riverton Aparima. There is a little carpark near the entrance to The Cliffs and visitors can walk through a paddock to the beach from there.

Chrissy and I had a companionable fossick, comparing and discussing our finds. I passed a number of trace fossil stones to her. We found a small number of what I would call “low grade” hydrogrossular garnets, the white variety with black inclusions, but no others. Thank you, Chrissy and Ohla, for a very pleasant time!

This Post features seven of the stones I collected today. The largest is a breccia, with maybe jasper making up most of the fragments. One of the medium-sized stones is black and white – quite a few variations of this colour combination were on the beach.

The next stone is an intriguing one. One one side it kind of looks like quartzite. On the other side, it appears to be a quite plain dark sedimentary stone. I have found stones like this before, often white on the “colourful” side – having the dark sedimentary backing seems to give the “colourful” side more intensity.

The final four: Chrissy found the first one, which contains some nice pink hues, maybe thulite, and she kindly gave it to me. Next is another of the black and white stones I picked up, this one because of the snowflake-like white spots. The last stone below, with intense white opaque crystals, was spotted by me just as a wave flowed over it – I patiently waited for the wave to recede and found the stone still in the same spot.

Many thanks to Chrissy for the fossick and conversation, and the coffee.

The next Post in the “Southern Sojourn 2023” Series is called “Delightful Discoveries, Desperate De-pants-ing, and Dramatic Drenchings on Gemstone Beach”. The first Post in the Series is here and the Index to the Series is here.

Southern Sojourn 2023(24): Bordering on Madness! Wet Weather Fossick on Gemstone Beach, Friday 17 March

Despite wind and rain, I spent two hours at Gemstone Beach again this morning. I needed to wear my big waterproof coat and over-trousers, plus scarf and hat. When I arrived, it was 15 degrees but about to rain, and there was only maybe 10 minutes during my fossick that the rain relented. I managed to ford the rainfall-charged Taunoa Stream, which is near the carpark, but the Waimeamea River further west was too high to negotiate. Initially, at a time when the high had been an hour earlier, the very occasional wave managed to travel well up the beach due to the wind. But I faced no real threat of being pushed into the cliffs by waves. Most of the time I was the only one on the beach, though a couple of passing tourists called in a couple of times. The onshore wind was pushing the waves higher than usual, but the rain was wetting the stones all across the beach so I could avoid fossicking too close to the sea. I ended up not collecting a lot, partly because my glasses kept getting wet and blurry, obscuring my ability to see clearly.

This Post features 11 of my hard-won finds. I managed to work out how to take better photos of stones back at my accommodation when it’s cloudy – I stand next to a wall and can usually find an orientation that limits reflections to one side of the stone. However, while the reflections are limited a bit more, they are not eliminated and still prevent the provision of good images. xx

The first stone is a large banded argillite, 8.5 cm by 6 cm, with an interesting stress fracture.

For some reason, the trace fossil stones stood out best on the beach today. My eye seemed to be drawn to their wet shiny lines, despite my blurred glasses. This is the largest one I put in my bag (see below). I also find a stone with interesting white crystals and an argillite of complex composition:

The most intriguing find today was this stone – it’s like the stone was dipped in green all over, and the green ran down, exposing the white crystals, but then it was partly dipped in red with the green turning to grey underneath:

The remaining six stones are smaller ones: a light green quartzite, two of the half dozen hydrogrossular garnets I found today (the second one having a light pink thulite blush), a black and white layered stone, aother green quartzite, and lastly a tiny banded argillite (2.5 cm long).

The 25th Post in the “Southern Sojourn 2023” Series features a fossick with Chrissy and Ohla at The Cliffs beach on Te Waewae Bay. The first Post in the Series is here and the Index to the Series is here.

Southern Sojourn 2023(23): Two Hours on Gemstone Beach, Thursday 16 March

I spent two hours at Gemstone Beach this morning, just after high tide, walking west along the Te Waewae Bay coast. Because the waves were further up the beach than my last two fossicks, more stones were wet and I collected a little more than usual.

These included some unusual and gorgeous pebbles. The cloudy afternoon made it very difficult to take clear photos back at my accommodation, and these are the best I could do for the 14 chosen stones.

The first stone is a gorgeous grey breccia(?):

The next three are also gorgeous – the most colourful stone of the day, a small red one, maybe jasper with a tiny touch of agate; a pink thulite stone; and another grey stone, of complex composition.

Six more of my finds:

Finally, four trace fossil stones:

The next Post in the “Southern Sojourn 2023” Series features a wet and windy fossick, titled “Bordering on Madness!”. The first Post in the Series is here and the Index to the Series is here.  

Southern Sojourn 2023(22): Back to Gemstone Beach! Wednesday 15 March

I arrived back in Riverton yesterday. This morning I spent three hours on Gemstone Beach (and the part of Te Waewae Bay beach to the west). On the beach, I met with Lee Gibbs, a fossicker who is also a member of the Facebook Group “New Zealand Lapidary, Rocks, Minerals, Fossils”. Lee and two fossicking friends have, like me, travelled from the North Island to visit Gemstone Beach. We had a good chat about stones and tumble polishing. This Post features 11 of my finds today.

The two most striking of my finds are an unusual small green orbicular stone and a larger colourful breccia:

Among the larger stones are these four:

As is often the case, the smaller stones are sometimes the most interesting:

The next Post in the “Southern Sojourn 2023” Series features a gorgeous grey breccia stone. The first Post in the Series is here, the Index to the Series is here.  

Picking Up Stones While Walking the Puppy: Kai Iwi Beach

I have been back home in Whanganui over the past three weeks (late February to mid-March). During this time, I often visited the nearby Kai Iwi Beach to walk our new puppy, Jasper.

Kai Iwi Beach is well known for its fossils. However, as a tumble polisher of stones, I am more interested in smooth-worn beach pebbles than fossils. Though there are very few stones on the beach, I usually managed to collect a few each walk. Most are what I think are iron-stained quartz, though there is quite a variation among them. I managed to put some through a 220 grit stage in a 4lb barrel (9 days tumbling). This Post features 12 of the stones from that tumble. Some context and background on Kai Iwi Beach and its stones can be found in this TumbleStone Post.

The first two stones appear to be breccia:

Four of the mainly orange hued stones:

Six stones with darker patterns:

Thank you, Jasper, for the fossicking opportunities!