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==the cj way++

The CJ way Guide to Castle Hill


Approximately 1500 limestone boulders


15 -90 minutes



Best time to visit: sunrise/sunset

Jandals/sandals suitable


  • Coordinates of boulders: -43.229406, 171.715441

  • Coordinates of parking: -43.233527, 171.722152

  • Park in the designated car park for Castle Hill Conservation Area and walk 10-15 minutes up the well-defined track to the main set of boulders. You could spend hours exploring this area. To get to where we took our photos, was only about five minutes further, heading directly straight.

 best time to visit? 

  • Early morning or late afternoon to take advantage of golden hour light.

  • We haven’t done it, but coming here in winter would be amazing to get snow-capped mountains in the background.

 cj travel tips 

  • If you are coming for sunset (from Arthur’s Pass), be aware that golden hour in the valleys of the Great Alpine Highway is absolutely incredible and like us you’ll probably get suckered in and be late arriving here! (We were pulling over every three minutes).

 cj photography tips 

  • If you visit Castle Hill after a bit of rain, there is a tarn up top, at the back of the boulders that would create a perfect reflection on a still day. Unfortunately for us, we didn’t visit on a still day haha. The tarn also lines up really well with sunrise in the Summer months and you might be able to get a sun-sparkle!

  • Make sure to arrive here early as there are thousands and thousands of possible compositions. It can feel a little overwhelming when you arrive, but just have fun with it! We were running around as the sky was going crazy and literally just pointed and shot! The landscape is amazing every way you look.

  • If you’re here in Winter, this would be an EPIC spot for astro-photography (on our dream list!).

  • If you come at sunrise, a time-lapse would be really beautiful here, watching the sun rise and the detail in the boulders slowly appear.

  • A shot of the path leading into the towering boulders (with or without people) would look really amazing during golden hour (when we visited we had quite a loud of cloud so didn’t get to see this, but will definitely be back!). 

 what we found useful to pack 

​In addition to the usuals (camera gear, suitable clothing, water and food, first aid, etc. we found the following items useful for Castle Hill:

  • Phones (you have service here)!! James and I walked away from each other for literally two minutes and then suddenly couldn’t find/hear each other haha. We had to call each other several times and ask where the other person was! (would make for an epic game of hide and seek actually!)  

  • A willingness to spend a bit of time here. The place is culturally, spiritually and historically significant and you can  really feel it. Take some time to  just sit and be if you can.

  • N.B - no drones here - Castle Hill is regarded as Taonga.

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