Castle Hill – Castle Hill, New Zealand - Atlas Obscura

Castle Hill

Castle Hill, New Zealand

The Dalai Lama named this New Zealand landscape the "Spiritual Center of the Universe." 


New Zealand is known for its natural beauty, but in 2002 a particular patch of farmland was given a special honor. It became a “Spiritual Center of the Universe.”

Called Castle Hill, the area is a high country station—a station is a large farm area dedicated to the grazing of sheep and cattle—on New Zealand’s South Island. Looking like the ruins of a castle, and hence the name, the hill is a popular climbing and bouldering spot for rock climbers.

But rock climbers aren’t the only ones impressed by the site. In 2002, the Dalai Lama visited the South Island. Apparently, he didn’t like the energy in the nearby town of Christchurch (whose church is made from rock quarried from the boulders) and he was taken to the boulder field. He was so taken by the landscape, and his spiritual experience there he named the area a “Spiritual Center of the Universe.”

The area got some world exposure when the nearby Flock Hill station was used for the filming of the climactic battle scenes of the 2005 movie The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

Know Before You Go

The hill is located at an altitude of 700 meters, close to State Highway 73 between Darfield and Arthur's Pass. There is a car park, picnic area, and bathrooms. There’s a well-maintained footpath so you can walk around the rock formations. The estimated walk time is about 40 minutes.

In partnership with KAYAK

Plan Your Trip

From Around the Web