Flock Hill - aka Narnia
Flock Hill, high in the Southern Alps of the South Island, New Zealand, is an area of limestone rocks and dramatic valleys. It was the grand finale on my walking group's trip list for 2006.
On the Road Again
Chosen to be the battle setting for the film 'The Lion The Witch and the Wardrobe', the grass-scapes became the land called Narnia. The distant peaks of the Torlesse Range provided a dramatic backdrop for the White Witch's palace.
Our trip to the big rocks on Flock Hill was exploratory only. We'd been given permission to walk into this private place - no rock climbing or bouldering was allowed. The plan was simply to nosy about, climb up the hills, and maybe descend into the big valley to look at a giant artificial rock, left behind after filming.
The Road Goes On For Ever...
Our trip leader (male) was rightly puzzled by this. Why would nature lovers (mainly female) want to travel on foot, for hours, just to touch a large piece of polystyrene? Could it be some secret women's business?
This was awesome country to walk in - a huge alpine basin of tussock and grass with thousands of limestone boulders, ringed by mountain ranges (Torlesse and Craigieburn). We strode along the access road and seemed to be getting nowhere - that slow adagio tempo of walking in the great outdoors!
The Road to Narnia
Geologically it's karst, limestone country. And there are no human secrets lurking underneath the rock shelves, or hidden in well-weathered cracks. No early clans of people gathered here for midsummer celebrations or for midwinter farewells.
New New Zealand!
New Zealand is an extremely new land (geologically speaking), shaped only by the forces of wind and rain (and earlier, ice). The earliest human habitation occurred here around about the 13th century. That's almost like yesterday!
Rocks in the Valley
We all sat sedately and munched our sandwiches on the rock tops, high above the sweeping plain where the great battle for Narnia took place. Those of us in touch with our inner child-selves wanted to play a gigantic game of hide and seek - we could disappear into the boulders, and be lost in childhood for ever.
Unfortunately, mature thoughts - particularly the long trudge back along the access road, and the afternoon coffee stop at Springfield - prevailed. Oh to be young and wiry again!
Current research suggests that Flock Hill Station's land is strictly closed, particularly to rock climbers and boulderers, unless they have permission to visit. Perhaps these ancient and silent rocks are winning the greater battle...