Situated 75 miles west of Christchurch, 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 a humble patch of farmland; its impressive limestone was used to build the cathedral that gives its neighbouring town its name. On visiting Christchurch in 2002, the Dalai Lama apparently said he felt the energy in the town wasn’t good, and so he was taken to the boulders. He was immediately overwhelmed to the point of naming it a "Spiritual Centre of the Universe" and cementing it as a pilgrimage for spiritual people.
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 many climbing enthusiasts. The distinctive limestone outcroppings provide five areas with around 250 climbs and well over 1,000 boulder problems. The hill is just over an hour’s drive from Christchurch so spending the night is advised, even if it’s just for the experience. It’s not often you get to sleep under limestone giants like these.