The reality that one of the most famous natural sites in New Brunswick has been forever changed was still sinking in for many people who visited Hopewell Rocks on Tuesday.

An estimated 200 tonnes of rock from one of the iconic flowerpot formations came tumbling down early on Monday morning after the tide went out.

"I can't believe it," exclaimed one woman when she saw the remains of Elephant Rock, now laying on the sea floor.

"I know, isn't it amazing?" replied Kevin Snair, the site's supervisor of interpretive services.

"It's still hard for me to believe that that part of the park is now gone," said Snair, who discovered the collapse.


The huge section of Elephant Rock that collapsed Monday morning. (CBC)

"You can't help but feel a little sad that we've lost part of it."

Last year, more than 225,000 people visited the park to see the 17 massive formations, formed by the world's highest tides in the Bay of Fundy.

But Tourism Minister Bill Fraser isn't worried the loss of one of the beloved landmarks, featured on New Brunswick's medicare card, will hurt tourism.

"You know this is another part of the story," said Fraser, who was one of several politicians who rushed to the site to show their concern.


The former look of Elephant Rock, as featured on the province's medicare cards. (CBC)

"This is part of the wonder of nature, and that's what our tourists are looking for," he said.

Snair, who is also a dedicated naturalist, agrees. "You know, there's new things to enjoy now," he said.

Meghan O'Bannon, who is visiting from Tulsa, Oklahoma, says she feels she has witnessed natural history in the making.

"Last night when we were finally going through pictures that I had taken here and you know looking at [friend and park interpreter Elise Quiring's] pictures … she was able to discuss it and, you know, explain it to me and show what it originally looked like," said O'Bannon.

"I had no idea," she said. "I mean, Oklahoma, we have the rolling plains."