One of the most famous natural sites in New Brunswick has been forever changed after one of the Hopewell Rocks collapsed Monday morning.

Elephant Rock, one of the most photographed of the cliff formations on the shores of the Bay of Fundy, sheared almost in half. Park officials said roughly 100 to 200 tonnes of rock fell to the ground.

"Sometime after the tide went out this morning, a significant piece of Elephant Rock calved off, closing off a whole section or a whole passageway where we used to walk," said Kevin Snair, supervisor of interpretive services at the Hopewell Rocks.

The rocks have attracted thousands of visitors every year for decades.

'Sad and humbling'

Formed by the world's highest tides in the Bay of Fundy, the Flowerpot Rocks — as they are also known — have been carved out of the cliffs in the area by time, tide, and wind.

The park's website explains that the formations aren't ever 100 per cent safe "but are even more dangerous this time of year. This is a particularly volatile time for the rock as spring temperatures rise and the nights stay cold."

Elephant Rock is featured on New Brunswick's Medicare card.

"It's certainly sad and humbling to see us lose one of our named formations, or at least lose its identity, but it's also very exciting," said Snair.

"The whole park is formed by this exact action that happened today, so to be able to see that that is still happening, and the park is still evolving, it's a beautiful thing, despite the loss."

The park is reminding people to come visit the park over the summer, as there will still be lots to see.

Elephant Rock is one of 17 standing formations at Hopewell Rocks.

Hopewell Rocks 4

This photo shows how drastic the difference is between high and low tide of the Bay of Fundy at the Hopewell Rocks. (Kevin Snair)