It was a time when giants roamed the earth. Giants like the palaeeudyptes, a 1.5m-high penguin - the 40 million-year-old remains of which have been found near Kawhia, an hour's drive south of Hamilton.
The remains of this giant bird were found last month by Tony Lorimer who stumbled across the find while on a trip escorting the Hamilton junior naturalists club.
Dwarfing the huge emperor penguin, the palaeeudyptes would have cut an imposing figure across the Waikato landscape.
It seems to have died on the foreshore and sunk into the mud at a time when much of the area was just small low-lying islands.
"Two of us were walking along when we almost banged heads going for a look and realised they were bones," Mr Lorimer said.
Ewan Fordyce, associate professor of paleontology at Otago University, said the find was extremely significant.
The bones may now become the showpiece of a small museum run by the Hamilton junior naturalists club. But Alan Tennyson, curator of fossils at Te Papa, said the fossil was a national treasure and should be somewhere where it could be appreciated by everyone.
- HERALD ON SUNDAY