There are many places in New Zealand that look as though they’re straight out of a fairy tale. That – coupled with its relative cheapness – is why so many fantasy films and series are shot here. As a writer, I’ve spent years seeking out such places. I like to bask in them and just… imagine. Here are what I feel to be the top five fairytale spots in New Zealand:

5) The Tree Church

The Tree Church, Ohaupo, New Zealand

Yes, New Zealand has a church made out of living trees and, yes, it’s just as magical as it sounds. It’s in Ohaupo, just south of Hamilton. Pure tranquillity filters through the leaves as you approach the dappled altar. You can well imagine a maiden in a flower crown secretly marrying a prince there. The Tree Church doesn’t get too many tourists, due to limited visiting hours and the fact that not a lot of people know about it.

4) The Goblin Forest

The Goblin Forest, Taranaki

The clue’s in the name with this one. At the foot of Mount Taranaki grows a forest that’s a little different from your typical New Zealand bush. The trees seem oddly twisted; their branches draped in rag-like moss. They look for all the world like withered hags, beckoning you off the path. Goblins scamper over their gnarled roots, or, at least, the person who gave the Goblin Forest its name imagined they did.

3) The Glowworm Caves of Waitomo

Glowworms, Waitomo Caves

The Waitomo Caves are amongst the most popular tourist attractions in the whole of New Zealand, but this doesn’t rob them of their magic. Imagine sitting in a silent boat, darkness pressing in around you, as, slowly, the stars come out. An entire galaxy of electric-blue lights is suspended above you; reflected in the obsidian water below you. Now you’re floating through space – or are those electric-blue twinkles fairies, drawing you down a tunnel? Well, actually, they’re glowworms, without which the caves would still be awesome to explore, but their beauty wouldn’t be quite as ethereal.

2) Castle Hill

Castle Hill, New Zealand

The clue’s sort of in the name with this one too. Castle Hill is a hill in the South Island – between Christchurch and Arthur’s Pass – ringed by mountains and topped with cyclopean boulders that resemble the ruins of a castle. From every angle, the view is breathtaking. Standing on top of the hill, in the midst of the stones, you can’t help but feel you’ve wandered into an elvish encampment, or a place of ritual sacrifice. Or a cool hangout for trolls.

1) Whitecliffs Boulders

Whitecliffs Boulders

This place is a little off the beaten track, on a farm near Taihape. As you’re making your way there across muddy sheep fields, it’s hard to imagine the magical pocket of fairytale forest that awaits you. Then you enter the trees’ embrace and a hush descends, muffling the nearby river. The forest is filled with mysterious, spherical boulders. Many are covered with luscious, green moss or slithering roots; some are split neatly down the middle. The Whitecliffs Boulders have to be seen to be believed, and maybe seeing them will make you believe in fairies.


Article by Abigail Simpson

Fairytale Spots in New Zealand