‘Spiritual Center Of The Universe’ & Hobbits in Unusual New Zealand

Anyone who has seen the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings movies already has an idea how green, lush and beautiful New Zealand is.

Spread over two islands, there are many great vacation spots to visit, whether in the main cities themselves or outlying areas. There are also some rather more weird and unusual locations to visit on a New Zealand vacation including two mentioned below.

Dubbed by the Dalai Lama himself as a “Spiritual Center of the Universe,” Castle Hill (or “Kura Tawhiti” in the local lingo) sits at an altitude of 700-meters on a large farm on New Zealand’s South Island. While the farm is involved in the grazing of sheep and cattle, Castle Hill is also a popular destination for climbing and bouldering in the area.

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Castle Hill was proclaimed a "Spiritual Center of the Universe” by the Dalai Lama

The hill got its name from its similarity to a ruined castle, and it is interesting to note that stone from this area was used in the construction of the church in nearby Christchurch. However, when the Dalai Lama visited New Zealand in 2002, he apparently didn’t like the energy emanating from that church.

When taken to Castle Hill, on the other hand, he loved the landscape and had such a spiritual experience on the spot that he dubbed the rocky hill a “Spiritual Center of the Universe.”

According to Atlas Obscura, the area also featured in the filming of the 2005 movie, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. They apparently used the nearby Flock Hill station for the climactic battle scenes in that movie.

A drone tour of Castle Hill can be enjoyed in the video below.

However, its claim to fame is not of an equine nature. According to a blog on Spaceships Campervan Hire in New Zealand, one of the farms in the area was used when filming the popular Hobbit films and the area is still dubbed “Hobbiton” to this day.

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A view of the village of Hobbiton, used as a set in the Hobbit films.

Once filming was complete, the film crew was supposed to return the farm to its original, pristine state. However, local government saw a big advantage in leaving the Hobbit homes in place, and visitors to Hobbiton can to this day enjoy a tour of the cute tiny homes.

Unfortunately the furnishings have since been removed, but it is still a quaint and enjoyable visit and all the original direction signs still exist.

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Street signs in Hobbiton, New Zealand

On arrival tourists are welcomed by a “Welcome to Hobbiton” sign as they venture into the former home of Bilbo Baggins and his friends. Touring the farm is a fascinating experience where not only the tiny homes of the hobbits can be seen, but also “The Water,” the river that passes through the village, and that portion of it to the north of the river, known as Hobbiton-across-the Water. Enjoy a brief tour of Hobbiton in the video included below.

Of course scenes from the Lord of the Rings trilogy of movies were also filmed in New Zealand, as outlined on 100% New Zealand.

These are just a sample of the fascinating destinations to visit in New Zealand. Whether on North or South Island, there is so much more to see and experience.

[Images: Castle Hill featured image CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 Christopher Chan / Castle Hill CC BY 2.5 JShook / Hobbiton view CC BY 2.0 Jackie.Ick / Hobbiton sign post CC BY 2.0 Jeff Hitchcock]