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...Birdlings Flat beach, south of Banks Peninsula, is popular place for agate collectors. The beach is largely made up of greywacke pebbles, however in amongst this material one can easily find agates, carnelian, quartz, quartzite, volcanic pebbles, jaspers and occasionally petrified wood.  The stones originate from from the southern rivers of Canterbury and tumble along the coastal beaches until they are stopped on Birdlings Flat by the barrier of Banks Peninsula.

Most of the material found on Birdlings Flat is only suitable for tumble polishing, however, occasionally agates large enough to cut are collected at this site. The best times to visit Birdlings Flat to collect agates is on the outgoing tide after either a southerly storm or when the wind has been blowing out of the Northeast or Northwest for several days.  When these weather conditions occur it is not unusual to see a large number of collectors who have driven from Christchurch scanning the beach between the storm surge line and low tide mark for the various coloured stones. If one is lucky a substantial haul of material can be found at this time. 

Most of the agates collected at Birdlings flat are banded and grey blue in colour. However agates that contain moss, or are orange, pink, dark blue and fortified can also be collected at Birdlings Flat. Whilst at Birdlings Flat it is recommended that you visit Birdlings flat Gemstone and Fossil Museum Vince and Colleen Burke. Here you can see their large collection of agate, petrified wood and jaspers that has been collected from throughout New Zealand.  This is one of the largest privately owned collections in New Zealand that is open for public display almost every day of the week.

written by Scott Hardwick, Christchurch