Wednesday, December 8, 2010


Bright blue skies, strong cool winds, cows mooing, sheep baaing, fields of daisies, and rolling green hills, home to a playground of boulders. Where was I?! Castle Hill, one of my dream destinations.

I’ve wanted to go to Castle Hill ever since I saw a picture of it in a climbing magazine 6 years ago. Today my dream became reality.

Today I woke up with Castle Hill on my mind. I got a ride to Christchurch city bus exchange and took bus number 84 to the start of highway 73, which was the road to West coast. I put my thumb out and within 5 minutes I got a ride.*

We drove through beautiful plains and jaw-dropping rolling hills and mountains. About an hour later, I looked to my left to see the endless hills of limestone boulders, and with extreme excitement, I shouted “OH MY GOD, THERE IT IS!”

So then it began… my first full day in New Zealand. I felt so free. I talked to cows, hiked around, scrambled up some rocks, laughed & cried as a result of the sheer beauty of the place! Overall, I had an amazing day.

I spent much of my day talking to these cows.

a face in the rock

I joined 3 cool Canadians who were also climbing around. We ran around the area, trying to find the boulders that looked the most featured. You see, castle hill is full of boulders but it is quite difficult to find one that has enough features to climb. Most are either smoothed over or have one or two pockets followed by a completely blank wall. We tried to climb many boulders where we’d get a few inches off the ground and get totally shut down. It was truly quite humbling, really… the rocks will always win. When I actually did climb a boulder there, it felt like I had truly connected with the rock, as there really is only one way up the climbs there… as there are just enough holds to be climbable. I had a blast.

When they left, I continued cruising around the boulders, often taking a few steps back and reminding myself that I was at my dream destination, truly making it happen.

Castle Hill was an absolutely gorgeous place and there was a mystical energy to the area… it was quite magical. I felt as though the rocks contained an ancient wisdom and I could almost feel their intelligence. There was one point of the day where I could see the energy of everything including the rocks, mountains, plants, and clouds. I literally saw everything swirling with energy, including their auras, almost as if I was on hallucinogenic drugs. Everything was glowing. It was at this point that I truly felt ALIVE in this beautiful world. Chills. Overwhelming beauty!!!

My dream came true, and lived up to all expectations. It’s only day one and I truly feel connected to this place…. How will I ever go back!?

*Yep, you guessed it: hitchhiking. Hitchhiking is a common way to travel here and NZ is known to be quite safe as it’s filled with friendly kiwis. Before you totally dismiss this idea or freak out and worry about me, think again. Hitchhiking can be a very savvy way to travel and a great way to meet people. But… that doesn’t mean you can hop in a car with anyone. Even a country as safe as New Zealand still has some crime (?) and crazy people. Here are some tips to follow:

-stand next to motorway, in an area where a car could pull over easily (at a slow speed limit)

-make sure the car can see you from far away, so they they can get a good look at you… and have enough time to pull over.

-look clean and tidy – nobody wants to pick up a scruffy dirtbag (even though I personally like that look, haha)

-ask where the driver is going before you get in the car. That way you know if they are really going where you need to go.

-Follow your instincts. If your instincts tell you no, then DON’T GET IN!!! Tell them that you’re not going that way or that you’ll catch the next ride.

-SMILE! Even if you’ve been waiting for a while, nobody wants to pick up a miserable bloke. Look bright and happy. =)

and… if you’re traveling in NZ and don’t feel completely safe, you can send a text to 7233 (SAFE), which is a service that records your message, phone number, and time of text, and if there is an emergency it will send the info to the police. Simply send a detailed description of where you are, where you’re going, who you’re with, the car, and so on… AND in an emergency, dial 111.


  1. I'm so happy right now! Live it up, Chica!!! Te amo, te amo, te amo!!

  2. Hey Ash! I love reading your blog!!! I'm so happy you made it to castle hill. Your adventure sounds incredible and very inspiring. Keep writing here, I will definitely keep reading!! Love ya! - Kat

  3. It looks wonderfull !! Have fun !