Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

New Zealand: Boulders at Castle Hill

with 30 comments

Castle Hill Boulders 4787

Heading west on SH 73 out of Christchurch on February 16th bound for the west coast of the South Island, we began after a while to wind and climb into the mountains that make up much of that island. At one point we came to a place where heaps of other drivers had pulled over, Castle Hill, and we joined them. The attraction there is a collection of naturally arrayed boulders, including a few that seem precarious, as you see in today’s photographs.

Castle Hill Boulder 4731

To learn more about and see other pictures of this scenic place, check out an online article about it.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

April 10, 2015 at 5:31 AM

30 Responses

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  1. What a fabulous landscape. The combination of boulders and grassy meadows reminds me of Stonehenge, or Easter Island. Your second photo amused me. You didn’t happen to see Sisyphus, did you?


    April 10, 2015 at 7:39 AM

    • Nothing would surprise me up there!


      April 10, 2015 at 7:58 AM

    • It is a fabulous landscape, and I could easily have spent hours there wandering around and taking many more than the hundred photographs I ended up with, but there were so many other things yet to see.

      Your mention of Stonehenge and Easter Island at the same time reminds me of Stonehenge II in the Texas Hill Country, which I expect you’ve seen more than once:


      I passed the current site last November on the day I finally got some pictures of fall color at Lost Maples. Neither there nor at Castle Hill, however, did I see a trace of Sisyphus. (What I do see more than a trace of as I type this is rain coming down outside my window: hooray!)

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 10, 2015 at 8:50 AM

  2. Magnificent, and indeed precarious. Many young students who have tried rock climbing in this area have also felt precarious.


    April 10, 2015 at 7:56 AM

    • As I just said to Linda, I wish I’d had hours more to spend at Castle Hill, because there were so many curious and interesting things to photograph. A downside to having young climbers around was that I couldn’t photograph one boulder that I wanted to because a guy was on it.

      I searched your blog for Castle Hill but didn’t find anything. If you have any stories to tell related to the place, perhaps you’ll do a post one of these days.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 10, 2015 at 8:56 AM

      • I don’t have anything on my blog but the school my father, brother, daughter and son went to has strong connections to the area. Daughter and son both did outdoor education at Castle Hill. Daughter hated it. Son seemed to enjoy it. One of the standard activities is going through the Cave Stream cave. Fortunately when I went on a school trip to Castle Hill, all I had to do was tramp in the beech forest. I am not a climber or a caver.http://www.doc.govt.nz/parks-and-recreation/places-to-go/canterbury/places/cave-stream-scenic-reserve/


        April 10, 2015 at 6:15 PM

        • We must have driven right past there but I don’t remember seeing a sign for it. That entrance to the cave is quite impressive, an apt counterpart to the boulders at Castle Hill. At first I was surprised that you and your family have so many connections to that place, but I shouldn’t be; it’s your region, after all.

          Steve Schwartzman

          April 10, 2015 at 8:04 PM

  3. I’ve taken 73 a number of times, and I’d do it again in a heartbeat (though, somehow, I’ve never stopped at Castle Hill). I think I could easily take a few months to explore the delights this road offers for access to the incredible country it passes through. Arthur’s Pass should be on the must-list of anyone who visits the South Island, in my opinion.


    April 10, 2015 at 9:48 AM

    • I agree with you. Stay tuned for the next couple of posts, which will show more scenes along SH 73.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 10, 2015 at 10:00 AM

  4. Those are really old rock formations. They would be fun to explore and climb on and around. I went to the link to see that article. There are some very good pictures your readers will like.

    Jim in IA

    April 10, 2015 at 9:56 AM

    • When I found that website I was envious because the photographers whose pictures are shown there got to photograph the scenery in different weather and light. If I lived in the vicinity I’d go back throughout the year.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 10, 2015 at 10:04 AM

  5. It is strange how some of us are so attracted to a pile of rocks 😉
    Apart from the colour (and obviously the type of rock) this and the images on the link you provided, remind me of the fascinating balancing rocks in your country – http://wp.me/pL5Ms-15j
    which had me clambering around taking too many photos!


    April 10, 2015 at 12:58 PM

    • A pile of rocks (at least of the types in your post and mine) is so much more than just a pile of rocks. You’re fortunate to have made it to the balancing rocks in the American Southwest; I haven’t seen them yet, but you’ve whetted my appetite. I was going to comment on your post but I looked and saw that I already had at around this time last year (I would once again have commended you for slot canyon picture 183).

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 10, 2015 at 1:42 PM

      • You have some amazing landscapes in the USA!!


        April 10, 2015 at 2:34 PM

        • We do, we do. I spent two weeks in the Southwest last autumn but managed to visit only a small portion of the places I would like to have seen.

          Steve Schwartzman

          April 10, 2015 at 2:46 PM

  6. A lot of our country side down in the South Island is like this. Not so much in the North Island.

    Raewyn's Photos

    April 10, 2015 at 3:20 PM

  7. What a beautiful boulder shot. I’ve heard about Castle Hill before. It’s such a diverse country. I’m looking forward to seeing these sights in person one day. I’m glad you got to visit the island.


    April 10, 2015 at 9:38 PM

    • Even though I spent only a week on the South Island, it was quite a productive week, and I managed to see many scenic places and things. Once again I’ll encourage you, who are so much closer, to head there as well. (You wouldn’t even have to contend with driving on the “wrong” side of the road.)

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 10, 2015 at 11:09 PM

  8. Very interesting rocks. I really like the second image a bunch. Nice to see a glamor shot of a rock.

    I’d love to spend some time with them too. Some others that I would love to see are the Moeraki Boulders
    Here’s a shot by a guy I admire a lot, Kah Kit Yoong, from that location.

    Steve Gingold

    April 11, 2015 at 3:59 AM

    • I like your calling that second photograph a glamor shot of a rock. It’s definitely a weighty picture.

      I’d read about the Moeraki Boulders and had hoped to see (and of course photograph) them, but time grew short and I ended up going no further south than about a third of the way down the South Island. That leaves two-thirds, including Moeraki, the fiords, and lots of mountains, for another trip.

      I can see why you admire the photograph from Moeraki by Kah Kit Yoong. Those dark clouds were an ideal counterbalance to the bright and convergent streaks of the water. I see he has two adjacent pictures from the South Island as well.

      Steve Schwartzman

      April 11, 2015 at 8:09 AM

      • He is all over the world making images. I am not sure how he makes a living, but he does win a lot of competitions and probably sells a lot too.

        Steve Gingold

        April 11, 2015 at 3:34 PM

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