Narnia locations in the South Island, New Zealand

Narnia locations in New Zealand (from NZ tourism)

Eager fans flock to New Zealand to discover the mythical landscapes of Narnia – immortalised in the film adaptations of CS Lewis famed 1950s ‘Chronicles of Narnia’ series.

Loved by children of all ages, this world of fauns, satyrs and centaurs was brought to the big screen by New Zealand director Andrew Adamson with his 2005 adaptation of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe which became the 41st highest-grossing film of all time.

Since then, there have been two more Narnia films – Prince Caspian (2008) and also directed by Adamson, and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (2010).

Andrew Adamson
Kiwi film director Andrew Adamson first read the ‘Chronicles’ as a child, and was captured by the excitement and adventure of the world that Lewis portrayed.

Released in December 2005, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe – and its followup Prince Caspian – were almost entirely filmed in Adamson’s native New Zealand.

Although many scenes were filmed behind stage doors in Auckland, there are also some locations in New Zealand that have now become part of Narnia Aotearoa.

Flock Hill – The Great Battle
High in the Southern Alps of the South Island is an area of tortured rocks and dramatic valleys known as Flock Hill. It was here that director Adamson created the scenes for the great battle for Narnia.

Flock Hill is 90 minutes from Christchurch on the Arthur’s Pass Highway to Greymouth. Leaving Christchurch, the South Island’s largest city, the road crosses the flat expanse of the Canterbury Plains through the small towns of Darfield and Sheffield.

At Springfield, the mountain peaks tower over the village and the road climbs dramatically to Porters Pass (942m). One of the highest passes in New Zealand, the road can be affected by snow in winter.

Lake Lyndon, surrounded by brown tussock hills, is worth a stop before continuing past Castle Hill to Flock Hill. Stop at Cave Stream Scenic Reserve by Broken River. The topography of limestone rocks seen from here and across Cave Stream is typical of the landscape used to portray Narnia.

There are two walking tracks from the car park. One leads to the upstream entrance to Cave Stream before entering the 362m water-filled tunnel. The other track leads to a view of the outfall.

Accommodation is available at nearby Flock Hill Station. Other activities include abseiling, rock climbing, tramping and canyoning. In winter, skiing and snowboarding abounds at the nearby Broken River, Craigieburn, Mt Cheeseman, Porter Heights and Temple Basin ski fields.

Elephant Rocks – Aslan’s Camp
The ancient Elephant Rocks that sprout from the rolling hills in the Waitaki district of the South Island were transformed into Aslan’s Camp.

Elephant Rocks are situated near Duntroon, a 40-minute drive from Oamaru on State Highway 83.

Millions of years ago this whole area was under the sea. Whales and other marine life sank into the soft sand which then gradually rose to the surface. The result is an intriguing area of fossils and dramatic limestone outcrops. Vanished World visitor centre in Duntroon houses interpretive displays on the area’s geological past. Trail maps are available with directions to Elephant Rocks.

The historic town of Oamaru – where white limestone Victorian buildings stand as a reminder of times gone by – is the ideal base for exploring the area. Originally built as warehouses and storage areas for the nearby port, the Harbour / Tyne area is home to antique shops, gift stores, craftsmen and restaurant’s – including Kiwi chef Fleur Sullivan’s Loan & Merc Tavern.

Close by is the Oamaru blue penguin colony. The smallest of their kind in the world, the blue penguins nest beside Oamaru Harbour and can be viewed in their natural habitat.

Oamaru is also home to the award-winning Whitestone Cheese, the factory has an onsite café and shop allowing visitors to sample local produce and wine.

Purakaunui Bay – Cair Paravel
The great castle of Cair Paravel on the Eastern Sea of Narnia was created by computer-generated imagery on the cliff tops of Purakaunui Bay in the Catlins, an area of spectacular coastal scenery.

South of Dunedin, the Catlins coast road from Balclutha towards Invercargill is a journey through dense rain forest and dramatic seascapes. Although the entire trip only takes a few hours, spreading the journey over a few days allows for a leisurely exploration of an area abundant in native flora and fauna.

Paradise – fairytale country
The third South Island site chosen for filming was Paradise, a privately owned horse ranch about an hour’s drive from Queenstown.

“There were a couple of locations that were perfect for this movie that only New Zealand could offer,” producer Mark Johnson said. “In many ways, it is a fairytale country with the kind of locations that make your jaw drop.