Frame To Frame – Bob and Jean

Our walk among the whimsical limestone Elephant Rocks



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Our walk among the whimsical limestone Elephant Rocks

elephant rocks, duntroon, south island, new zealand

From Oamaru, Bob and I made plans to visit the Elephant Rocks near Duntroon, some interesting limestone formations that were made famous by their appearance in the fantasy film The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

a highway near duntroon, south island, new zealand

With Duntroon growing ever closer, Bob and I started to notice a change in the landscape.  Slopes were studded with uniquely-shaped boulders poking through the healthy growth of green grass,

limestone cliffs, Maerewhenua Valley, duntroon, south island, new zealand

and sheer cliffs boasted of the white limestone underlying that area of New Zealand’s South Island.

elephant rocks, south island, new zealand

Upon arrival at the location of Elephant Rocks, we saw immediately why the producer had selected this site for one scene in his movie.  The landscape was quite exceptional.

elephant rocks, south island, new zealand

Elephant Rocks are located in a farmer’s field where cows and a flock of sheep were pasturing.  Although situated on private land, Elephant Rocks have been made accessible to the public by the farmer who allows people to walk his field in order to view the intriguing rocks.

elephant rocks, south island, new zealand

The paddock covers an area of gently sloping hillsides and is a mere 5-minute walk from the highway.

bob in the pasture with elephant rocks, duntroon, new zealand

Bob and I wandered freely over the hillsides photographing the oddly-shaped and weathered limestone rocks from every angle.

elephant rocks, south island, new zealand

Rock formations in whimsical shapes immediately inspired our imaginations.

an elephant-shaped elephant rock, waitaki region, south island, new zealand

The name Elephant Rocks was surely influenced by one of the rocks that does indeed resemble an elephant.  I can see its trunk.  Can you?

a pocked limestone outcrop, elephant rocks, new zealand

25 Million years ago, this area of New Zealand’s South Island was under water, at the bottom of a sea where sediments accumulated and eventually turned into sedimentary rock.

the sign at elephant rocks, duntroon, new zealand

Shifts in the Earth’s mantle eventually saw vast areas of the sea bottom pushed to the surface, and

elephant rocks, south island, new zealand

over time, the forces of Nature carved and shaped some of the limestone into these fantastical shapes.  They are remnants of the Otekaike Limestone formation.

elephant rocks, south island, new zealand

Some isolated outcroppings of this eroded limestone are a significant size measuring between 3-33 feet across, and up to 20 feet high, just large enough to challenge visitors if they are so inclined to mount the Elephant Rocks just for the fun of it.

elephant rocks, south island, new zealand

The paddock wherein Elephant Rocks are located is only about 660 feet across, so it only took us about 45 minutes to investigate all around the rocks and really appreciate them.

landscape featuring elephant rocks, duntroon, south island, new zealand

Elephant Rocks are located in the Maerewhenua Valley and are only one of many geological wonders in the Waitaki District.

sheep amid the elephant rocks, duntroon, new zealand

The Vanished World Trail is a self-guided route that visitors can follow to explore geological features in this area of the South Island, and Elephant Rocks is one of the stops on that Trail.

pastureland with sheep and elephant rocks, duntroon, new zealand

It was rather novel sharing the paddock with the sheep and cows.  They seemed quite used to visitors and paid us no heed, but more than once, we rounded an Elephant Rock and were surprised to meet a ram face to face.  That was a little unnerving!

jean on an elephant rock, duntroon, new zealand

Having watched the movie Chronicles of Narnia:  The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, it was fun to take a few minutes and try to visualize Aslan’s Camp now that we were sitting right there in the middle of where it had been.

an elephant rock that resembles a skull, duntroon, new zealand

Some erosion of the limestone has left megalithic outcrops looking like skulls,

elephant rocks on the vanished world trail, south island, new zealand

which I’m sure were used to good effect to create an other-worldly atmosphere in The Chronicles of Narnia.

elephant rocks in a pasture, duntroon, new zealand

Since Elephant Rocks are off the beaten path, the attraction is not overwhelmed by visitors.  One other couple showed up just as we were about to get underway.

jean and bob at elephant rocks, south island, new zealand

They obliged by snapping our photo against a backdrop of the Elephant Rocks.  These misshapen limestone formations certainly added another dimension to our experiences in New Zealand.

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