Natural Wonders of New Brunswick

By Brigitte Mah   Trail Canada

The season to be outdoors is upon us and New Brunswick is an excellent province to explore the marvels of nature. It is a land of natural enigmas, and the Bay of Fundy, located in the southern part of the province, sets the stage and the tone, with its ability to boast the highest tides in the world. Twice a day, over ten billion tonnes of water swirl and churn into the bay, eroding away the land and creating a vibrant home for thousands of marine plants and animals. With tides rising as high as forty-five feet, and falling as low as two feet, all in the span of twenty-four hours, it is no wonder that thousands of people visit the Bay of Fundy each year.

The best place to experience the effect that centuries of erosion can have on the surrounding land is at the Hopewell Rocks. Affectionately nick-named “the flower pots”, the Hopewell Rocks are a group of rocks towering over fifty feet in height and defying the physics of architecture. Once part of the Fundy coastline, the “rocks” have become isolated geological structures as the result of years of billion tonnes of water ebbing and flowing through narrow fissures and cracks. The rocks now stand apart from the surrounding cliffs, and create a impressive reminder of how our land is constantly changing.

The Hopewell Rocks are open from May to October, and are located one hour from Moncton. The best time to visit is during low tide, where a short ten-minute descending hike will allow you to reach the ocean floor. There, you can meander along the red silt and marvel how a fifty-foot tall rock can still stand when its base is narrower than its top. Kids will enjoy playing hide-and-seek through the ocean-formed arches, and you can grab lunch and savour the view from the patio at High Tide Café. If you miscalculate the tides and you arrive at high tide, fear not; you can rent a kayak and paddle through the tops of the rocks – a thoroughly pleasurable and unique experience.

If the experience of being on the ocean floor excites you, then drive south to St. Andrews, a quaint, sea-side town that is located along the Fundy Coastal Drive. Just outside of St. Andrews is Minister’s Island, notable for the nearly two-hundred year old mansion that was home to a wealthy railway builder in the late 1800s. A two-hour tour of the mansion is available, but it is the journey to the island that is the true adventure. If you time your arrival right, and head to Minister’s Island at low tide, you will be able to drive right on the ocean floor to reach the island. There is no gravel or paved road, just the mixed rock and silt that the tides bring in twice a day. You do not need a special car for this adventure; any four-wheeled vehicle will do. The drive is seasonal, accessible from May to October.

Perhaps a little more tame but certainly more puzzling is the mystery of Magnetic Hill, located just outside of Moncton. Kids will delight in the ability of a car, put in neutral, to be invisibly “pulled” and roll uphill. Tour buses are a real hit, since one would expect it to be impossible for four-thousand pounds of steal to defy the laws of physics. Whether an optical illusion or the workings of subterranean magnetic forces, Magnetic Hill certainly draws many people to its location every year. There is also a zoo and a few shops along a wharf to provide extra entertainment. The hill is also opened seasonally, from May to October.

For an opportunity to smell the fresh sea air while walking along one of the last remaining sand dunes of Atlantic Canada, visit La Dune de Bouctouche, about forty minutes north of Moncton, near St. Edouard-de-Kent. This twelve-kilometre long sand dune was formed from wind storms and tidal deposits approximately two thousand years ago. There is an ecological centre which gives information on the preservation of the sand dune, and a two-kilometre boardwalk allows you to casually stroll out to the Atlantic Ocean and unobtrusively observe the various local fauna and sea life. The dune is open from May to October, but occasionally closes if heavy storms prevail.

No doubt Mother Nature has left her mark on the province of New Brunswick; from the phenomenal record-breaking tides at the Bay of Fundy, to the secret magnetic forces of Magnetic Hill, New Brunswick has much to offer to its visitors. Spend a little time wandering through the natural splendors and you will forever be reminded of the formidable abilities Mother Nature has.

New Brunswick

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