Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Hopewell Rocks, New Brunswick, Canada

The Hopewell Rocks in New Brunswick have been on my wish list of places to visit for more than 30 years.  They came to my attention when I was working the overnight shift as a Registered Nurse in a medium sized community hospital in Upstate New York. One of my patients was a gentleman traveling through town when he became quite ill, requiring him to be admitted to our ICU.  He was understandably nervous and frightened about his health situation and it made him more comfortable to have someone to talk to. I listened for hours as he told me about his recent trip to the Canadian Maritimes.
The parts of that conversation that stuck with me for so long were his descriptions of the "Flower Pot Rocks", New Brunswick's own natural wonder.

The Hopewell Rocks are located in the Bay of Fundy which experiences that most extreme tidal changes in the world. The difference between high and low tides in the bay is 39 feet on average.

The rock formations are 40-70 feet tall. Many of them have trees and other vegetation on top. The portions of the rock that are below the high tide mark have been eroded over time by the turbulence of the tides.

We visited the Rocks at low tide so that we could see them completely. It was amazing to move around them, literally walking on the floor of the ocean. It was an amazing experience to be in a place that you know would be under more than 30 feet of water in 3 hours.

Looking at the top heavy rocks on their stony stalks I don't know if I will ever think of an island in quite the same way.

We wandered along the muddy beach peering into shallow caves and walking under a rock arch. There were Park personnel keeping track of the time and as the tide started to rise they shepherded the crowd closer to the staircase that would bring us back to the top of the cliff.

The Rangers made a point to tell everyone of the danger of the tide, but also how to stay safe if you were unexpectedly trapped.  Their instructions to find a rock surface close to the stairs above the high tide mark and wait for 3-4 hours for the tide to start to recede. These words were received with dismay by some, while others started to plan how to get "left behind".

Best quote of the day: Two young sisters were listening to the Ranger, one burst into tears and screamed for her Mother. The older sister, obviously embarrassed by this behavior, walked away shouting "Would you relax Tessa? It's not like we're going to die or anything."

The incoming tide continued to push us toward the stairs. Yes we all made it out safely, even Tessa.

We made it to an observation deck along the cliff to watch the rest of the tide come in.  The tide change seemed pretty passive. There were no waves or explosive rushes of water. It was only when you focused on a particular point on a rock or the cliff face that you realized how fast the water was moving.

The water seems dirty. It has a reddish brown color from oxidized iron in the surrounding bedrock. The Petitcodiac River located nearby in Moncton is nicknamed the Chocolate River due to it's unique coloration.

High tide came. The rocks are still lovely, their green leafy tops on top of the rock base visible above the tide line give them their name the "Flowerpots"

Kayaking the rocks at high tide is possible through a local company. We will return another day for that experience.


  1. That is really neat, Bonnie! We knew about them, but never made it over there when we were in the area. Great post!


  2. It's a definite don't miss when you are back in the area Jim.