Situated 75 miles west of Christchurch, in-between Darfield and Arthur’s Pass, lies a stone formation like no other. The early Europeans named it “Castle Hill” because of the striking collection of limestone boulders that brought back memories of longstanding, run-down stone castles back home. On arrival, it’s not hard to see why. They tower over the landscape leaving your imagination to run wild, it’s hard to not feel like you’re in a fantasy film.
For years the hill was used as humble patch of farmland, its impressive limestone being used to build the cathedral that gives its neighbouring town its name. On visiting Christchurch in 2002, none other than the Dalai Lama apparently said he felt the energy in the town wasn’t good and so was taken to the boulders. He was immediately overwhelmed to the point of naming it the ‘Spiritual centre of the universe’ and cementing it as a pilgrimage for the spiritual.
New Zealand is no stranger to blockbuster movies and the nearby Flock Hill station also rose to worldwide fame when the film adaptation of C.S Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe used the area as a setting for the intense final battle scenes.
Besides spiritual pilgrims and blockbuster filmmakers, the hill attracts a large amount of climbing enthusiasts, the distinctive limestone outcroppings provide five areas with around two hundred and fifty climbs and well over one thousand boulder problems. The hill is just over an hour’s drive from Christchurch so spending the night is definitely advised, even if it’s just for the experience, it’s not often you get to sleep under limestone giants like these.