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Geological Surprises at Elephant Rocks in Otago, New Zealand

Not far from the Eastern coast on the South Island is a hidden geological wonder – the Elephant Rocks. Seemingly dropped into a field from the sky, these huge weathered limestone rocks provide a great stop between Mount Cook and Dunedin. They also make a great side-trip from Oamaru, whether you’re a huge fan of geology or not.

Elephant Rocks, Otago
Elephant Rocks, Otago

History of the Otago Elephant Rocks

Millions of years ago this area was underwater – sand and marine life remains formed rocks, which then were weathered by the wind and rain after the whole area gradually rose to the surface.

This weathering caused the rocks to take unusual shape, and this continues today. The area is a favourite of climbers; I admit I had quite a lot of fun just reaching the top of some of the smaller and more accessible boulders.

Elephant Rocks, Otago
Elephant Rocks, Otago, New Zealand

Otago Elephant Rocks: As seen in the movies

If the Rocks look a little familiar to you, then it’s probably because Aslan’s camp was here in the 2005 Chronicles of Narnia film The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. I can understand why; it’s a pretty striking location, especially since it’s all contained in just one relatively small field!

The views of the surrounding Otago countryside are pretty awesome too; I visited in high summer and I loved all the browns and yellows of this area.

Elephant Rocks Otago
Approaching the Elephant Rocks, Otago

How to visit New Zealand’s Elephant Rocks

If you’re anywhere in this area, I’d definitely make the effort to spend an hour or so here. Head to Duntroon on road 83 between Omarama and Pukeuri (just north of Oamaru) and then turn off on the Livingstone-Duntroon Road – and follow the signs.

Note that the Elephant Rocks are not far from Duntroon. At the time of writing, they are completely free to visit.

Heard of another place to see cool rock formations? You’re probably thinking of Castle Hill near Arthur’s Pass. The biggest difference between these two sites is the landscape surrounding them.

Castle Hill is at a higher altitude and has mountains in view. Elephant Rocks is in the middle of the dry, rolling Otago hills.

Elephant Rocks, Otago
Me at the edge of the field

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Friday 27th of February 2015

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