On the road in Otago: Elephant Rocks

Off the well-travelled tourist routes, the Elephant Rocks are part of the Vanished World Trail, leading through several geological wonders of the Waitaki District.

Elephant Rocks, Otago, New Zealand

Elephant Rocks, Otago, New Zealand

Located near Duntroon, between Oamaru and Omarama in Otago, the Elephant Rocks are fairly straightforward to find: from near Duntroon, take Livingston-Duntroon Road and follow the signposts until you get to the Elephant Rocks.


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The Elephant Rocks are massive limestone formations sitting in a sea of grass on private farmland. The rocks were once sand at the bottom of the sea that accumulated 25 million years ago. These sediments were buried and the pressure turned the sand into rock, or limestone. When the whole area of limestone lifted and surfaced, the forces of the wind and water did their part in shaping the limestone.

Elephant Rocks, Otago, South Island

Elephant Rocks, Otago, South Island

The rocks come in all shapes and sizes, and are popular with climbers, especially for doing some serious bouldering. The area may also give some people a certain sensation of déjà vu; especially those that are fans of “The Chronicles of Narnia” movie: the Elephant Rocks served as a location for Aslan’s camp.

Elephant Rocks, South Island

Elephant Rocks, South Island

But whether you are a Narnia fan, climber or just a regular traveller, the Elephant Rocks make for a fascinating off-the-beaten-path stop on your way around Otago.

What lesser known New Zealand sights off the beaten path are among your favorites?

Christina Hegele

About the author: Christina Hegele runs Sandal Road, a blog on her favourite destinations. It just so happened that 95% turned out to be about New Zealand. Follow Christina and her blog on Twitter, like her blog on Facebook, and subscribe to her Youtube channel. Alternatively, subscribe to her email newsletter at the top right of this blog.

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  16 comments for “On the road in Otago: Elephant Rocks

  1. 11 April, 2011 at 03:47

    Very cool rocks. It’s hard to get a sense of the scale, but they look like they’d be fun to climb!

    • 11 April, 2011 at 03:58

      Hi Christy! I wish I had taken more pictures of people standing in front of them… some of them are pretty huge, others are just little ones to hop on and off from.

  2. 11 April, 2011 at 05:39

    Wow! It looks like a setting for a movie…Narnia Yes! I love Narnia haha!

    • 11 April, 2011 at 05:58

      It’s pretty special, yes! If you love Narnia, there are other locations on the South Island, such as Flock Hill, a valley near Arthur’s Pass, which hosted the battle for Narnia, and Purakaunui Bay in the Catlins, where Cair Paravel castle was digitally put onto the cliffs.

  3. 11 April, 2011 at 08:58

    Those are surreal – looks like a great spot for a picnic!

    • 11 April, 2011 at 18:01

      Absolutely. What better place to take a break and explore when you’re driving through northern Otago?

  4. 11 April, 2011 at 16:19

    I love these type of curious places to visit. Gosh, New Zealand still impresses me with more stuff to see! I think I will have to dedicate more time than expected when I get to go there next year.

    • 11 April, 2011 at 17:58

      Yes, Norbert, you’d better take a big chunk of time to visit New Zealand – new exciting things lurk around every corner :)

  5. 11 April, 2011 at 22:57

    Totally cool. NZ is one of those places I just have to get to- hopefully sooner than later. Love off the beaten track places… and this seems like something bob would really love as well.

  6. 12 April, 2011 at 07:42

    can’t wait to come to NZ! hope to make it there next year. this is so lush and gorgeous- a perfect place to meditate. :)

    • 12 April, 2011 at 18:30

      I hope you can make it there, too. You’ll love it!

  7. 12 April, 2011 at 12:46

    Looks like a fun place to climb around and spend an afternoon! I’m with Jade, haven’t been to NZ, but dying to go!

    • 12 April, 2011 at 18:34

      It is a fun place indeed. Nearby Oamaru is a beautiful town with white stone architecture, and driving inland beyond the Elephant Rocks you’ll have gorgeous Lake Benmore near Omarama. Northern Otago has it all!

  8. 11 May, 2011 at 15:28

    I would love to see these in person. They look like they were just dropped there and they look so out of place – very cool.

    • Christina
      12 May, 2011 at 00:42

      They’re absolutely worth visiting, and I hope you get to see them when you go to New Zealand! I love how New Zealand has so much diversity and so many things to discover behind every corner.

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