Rock-solid choice for building and decorating

Written by

25 November 2020


5 min read

Northland Oceanic Schist: the bridge between design and unique natural beauty.

About 540 million years ago, the foundation of our land was being formed within the supercontinent Gondwana. Over millions of years, rivers carried sediments to the sea and offshore volcanoes deposited ash on the seabed, both of which hardened over eons to become the stone that forms our bedrock.

By 85 million years ago a large section—Zealandia—broke off from Gondwana and moved into the Pacific Ocean. Still mostly under the sea, around 25 million years ago, Zealandia itself began to split apart and part of the sunken continent was pushed up, creating the land mass we know to be New Zealand.

A little over 15 years ago, an enterprising entrepreneur took a chance on a 140-acre block of land in Whangarei and purchased a quarry to extract the stone that formed all those millennia ago.

“At a little over 10 acres, our quarry site is the smallest commercial quarry in the country both in terms of its physical size and in the amount of stone we extract,” says Paradise Quarry Director, Mark Draskovich.

That stone is Northland Oceanic Schist, a high-grade limestone, which, Mark says, is predominantly used throughout the North Island on a range of decorative and landscaping projects.

Stone love: finding the right product for your project

“We carry a comprehensive range of prepared product—walling (book leaf); natural paving; random ‘crazy’ paving; and, more formal paving. Each job is unique with different requirements and outcomes—Paradise Quarry can ‘customise’ sizing to suit each job. For example, walling stone cut to 700mm–1m long by 300mm–400mm wide achieves a completely different look.

“For people wanting a highly cut-and-polished look, we can even ship whole rocks to China for processing into uniform pavers of equal thickness—20–30mm or 50–65mm thicknesses.

“There is usually a long lead-in time required for this particular product, so it’s best to get in touch with us at the design phase of the project, but cut and polished stone looks absolutely stunning with its variation in colour and texture. These pavers are suitable for both indoor and outdoor applications,” says Mark.

“We also have an enormous amount of beautiful natural rock—ranging in size from 20kg to 20t—which is perfect for landscaping.”

Mark says not all stone is created equal, so Paradise Quarry separates its walling products into two grades for quality of finished look and price point.

“Our product is technically a sedimentary limestone consisting of tiny fragments of ancient coral, along with mollusc and crustacean shells compacted down over time. The differing atmospheric conditions at play 30 million years ago when all of Whangarei was a giant tropical basin has informed the make-up of our stone and has a role in how we end up sorting that stone into its final use—either #1 grade or #2 grade.

“For walls where you want visible mortar joints or a tight fit to the stone then the #1 grade walling product is fit for that purpose. If you’re going to be creating a bagged wall where you want some element, but not necessarily all of the stone showing through, then you can easily get away with using the #2 grade walling product.

“Experience plays a large part in being able to read the rock before you start breaking it up and I’m proud to say ours is one of the most experienced teams—one of our staff has been with the quarry for more than 20 years.”

Paradise Quarry also works directly with a number of stonemasons and Mark says he can recommend accomplished stonemasons who have experience working with Paradise Stone for clients.

Paradise Stone: the natural choice

“As a building material, natural stone is inherently sustainable thanks to its low extraction footprint,” says Mark. “Our extraction and processing practices also result in zero wastage thanks to our ‘stone mulch’ product, which is ideal for landscaping applications, particularly for projects with a ‘desert garden’ aesthetic.

“Natural stone contains no pollutants that are damaging to health. Likewise, natural stone releases no substances that are hazardous to health in case of fire; requires no auxiliary chemical substances such as protective coatings and/or impregnating agents before it can be used as a building material; is incombustible; and, is a Class A building material.”

Mark says that natural stone is also perfect for a range of interior design applications as modern processing machines make it possible to produce a variety of aesthetic outcomes.

“Milling grooves and flutings into the surface of the stone is a relatively simple process these days, so incorporating functional elements such as drainage channels into benchtops creates a seamless counter surface.”

Paradise Quarry: your home of Northland Oceanic Schist

A self-proclaimed ‘boutique’ quarry, Mark says most of the work at Paradise Quarry is carried out by hand by the team of three quarrymen.

“With the exception of a digger and a forklift, all of the quarrying and processing of the stone is done using sledge hammers, wedges and bolster chisels—it is very physical work but that’s our choice and it’s the best way to work.”

For Mark, it’s also a labour of love.

“One of my early jobs was working with a stonemason, which began a continued interest in stone and the craft of masonry. When it came to building my own house, I knew I wanted to incorporate natural stone.

“I was aware of Paradise Quarry and when I came to check them out, I immediately fell in love with the product and the operation, so, when the company became available, I had to buy it.”

Mark says at the rate that they’re extracting the available stone there’s “another few hundred years' worth of stone still to be quarried”, so they carry a ‘permanent’ inventory—walling and paving material in stock at all times; landscaping stones of all sizes; natural stepping stones in 60x60, 80x80 and 150x150 sizes; natural lintels and steps.

Learn more about incorporating Paradise Stone into your next project.