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My Sacred Journey To Kura Tawhiti

Updated: Aug 19, 2022

My rapport with rocks increases as I investigate Earth energy currents and vortexes in the picturesque countryside of the South Island, New Zealand.

Kura Tawhiti.

The uplifting benefits of making a sacred pilgrimage are well documented throughout history, but it’s only when you’ve been on one personally, that it becomes obvious that mere words don’t even come close to covering the full rewards of the experience. That said, I’ll try and put into words how amazing my sacred journey to Kura Tawhiti was, and still is, as the benefits of my visit are ongoing.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Kura Tawhiti, it's a picturesque hill located near a secluded alpine village about an hour and a half drive out of Christchurch, which is in the South Island of New Zealand. Kura Tawhiti’s other name is Castle Hill because it’s covered in mysterious looking rock formations that resemble an ancient ruined castle. Adding to its majestic atmosphere are the moody mountains and valleys that surround it, which make it an even more impressive location.

The inspiration for my travelling companion Mary-Louise (aka Milou) and I to make this journey came from several sources. I had been researching New Zealand history, ancient cultures and Earth energy when the name Kura Tawhiti kept popping up. Some called it the ‘birthplace of the gods,’ and the ‘university of universities.’

During his visit there the Dalai Lama had called it “the spiritual centre of the Universe.” Kura Tawhiti is sacred to the Maori and the people that were here before them - the Waitaha Nation. They call Kura Tawhiti and its neighbours Flock Hill and Prebble Hill ‘The Sacred Nest,’ because that was where their tohunga (experts) taught the chosen ones who would become the next generation of wisdom keepers.

Those descriptions alone were enough to persuade me to make the pilgrimage there, but the strongest motivator for me was the mystical experience which had etched itself into my memory many years earlier, while working there on the feature film called ‘The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe.’

Behind the scenes on the set of the film 'The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe' Location: Flock Hill. Image credit: Unknown.


I was just one of the hundreds of cast and crew members that day shooting the epic battle scene among the huge limestone boulders at Flock Hill when I suddenly felt the sensation of being closely observed. When I looked around to check out who was watching me, everybody I saw was deeply engrossed in their work and not the least bit interested in what I was doing. But instead of easing, the sensation of being watched got stronger and I caught a glimpse of movement in the boulders. As I looked intently at the boulders the strangest thing happened, I sensed a weird magnetic connection to them, which held me in sort of a trance state. It was as if they were making it known to me that it was THEM observing me. Then, as if to confirm my recognition, the boulders did this weird shape-shifting thing from faces and figures back to weathered boulders again. It was quite hypnotic and a little bit disorienting. I hadn’t even had so much as a coffee that day, so my vision wasn’t chemically induced. I shook myself out of the trance and looked around again to check if anyone else could see what I was witnessing. But no one else was paying any attention. Another possibility sprang to mind and I asked around if this place had any spiritual significance, but nobody I asked knew anything about it.

It wasn’t until I read the literary works of authors Freddy Silva, Barry Brailsford and Hamish Miller and others seventeen years later that I learned that this was indeed sacred ground and that the Spirit of the Land had been in communication with other sensitives here for centuries. It’s my belief that I was given that memorable experience back then so that when my knowledge caught up with my sensitivity traits, I would heed the call to return and learn more.

Before our pilgrimage began, I was fortunate enough to interview Barry Brailsford, whose books ‘In Search of the Southern Serpent: A journey into the power of place’ and ‘Song of Waitaha’ had deeply resonated with me and stirred my memories and curiosity. He imparted some of his great wisdom to me about the region, its cultural and spiritual significance and how to interact with the local Atua (Spirits), for which I am hugely grateful. Barry also taught me about white rainbows and how rare and significant their appearance was on a pilgrim's journey. I hoped that we would see one, but didn’t think it was likely.

This amazing book was one of the main sources of inspiration for this sacred journey.

There were many signs and synchronicities along our journey, one of which was that despite purchasing our plane tickets independently and without knowing where the other was sitting, Milou and I ended up being able to sit next to one another on our flight. The weather was playing ball and it appeared as if we had timed our trip perfectly to coincide with a small cluster of sunny days in an otherwise bleak forecast. By the time we arrived at Castle Hill Village, we were feeling pretty blessed.

Words can’t describe how amazing this place smelt that evening as we walked around the village. Milou and I were sniffing trees and shrubs to figure out where the incredible fragrance was coming from, but we couldn’t put it down to any one thing specifically. Whatever it was smelt so good it could have been supernatural.

As we wandered back to our accommodation we saw a thin white ribbon of cloud in a perfect arch over Kura Tawhiti and the village. A rush of excitement went through us. Could this be the white rainbow that Barry had described? We thought it must be and were elated by this welcoming sign of the trail being opened for us.

The auspicious 'white rainbow' over Castle Hill and the village.


My excitement must have triggered my internal alarm clock because I was wide awake by 4:30am the following morning. While I waited for my sleepy travelling companion to wake I meditated and felt more energy movement in my chakras and meridians than usual. My heart chakra positively exploded when I focused on opening it and I wondered if this huge energy flow was due to the intention of our pilgrimage, or us being closer to a sacred place, or the blessed greenstone toki pendant I was wearing around my neck. Perhaps it was all of the above?

Of the three hills in the sacred nest we decided to visit Kura Tawhiti/Castle Hill first for several reasons. It was the closest and the most accessible and we knew there was an energy vortex there, and also because it was the location of the giant stone ‘sculptures’ of Marotini the Kumara Goddess and Rakaihautu the Great Navigator.

From my energy therapy work I knew that energy vortices have border membranes or force fields, so I was anticipating sensing one as we got closer to the vortex. But what I hadn’t anticipated was how far away from the vortex we both sensed this invisible boundary line to be.

The small stone marking the boundary force field around the energy vortex at Kura Tawhiti.

We decided this boundary line was the most appropriate place to introduce ourselves to the local Atua and state the intention of our visit, as Barry had suggested. We did so through karakia, mihi and pepeha in both Maori and English. We were rewarded by multiple signs that we were welcome to pass through the boundary. What’s fascinating is that each of the three hills in the sacred nest all have energy vortexes and these exact same signs appeared after we said our introductions at each boundary line.

Some else had already mapped out the spiral shape of the energy vortex with stones at the top of a ridge at Castle Hill and thus created what's known as a landscape temple. An unseen guiding force directed us to enter the vortex to the left rather than via the well worn path straight ahead and instructed us to leave our bags behind. I approached as directed and checked my compass to see which way the entrance was facing and was surprised to find it was exactly South. According to temple building lore a south facing entrance (in the Southern hemisphere) honours the element of Earth and serves as a place for initiation and transformation, which I thought was very fitting given this was the first vortex we had encountered on our first sacred pilgrimage together.

Measuring the energy flow at the vortex on Kura Tawhiti.

After we paid our respects to this sacred natural temple we continued up the next ridge to visit Marotini and Rakaihautu. It's a steep climb to the top and in hindsight we should have done a lot more fitness training to prepare. It didn’t help that in our enthusiasm we had taken far too much research gear with us.

All the hard work to finally get to the top paid off. Marotini and Rakaihautu did not fail to impress us, not only with their majestic size, but also with their magnificent presence. We spent a blissful afternoon communing with the Atua, doing vision quests and working with the energy lines we found snaking around the boulders.

The enormous stone 'sculpture' of Rakaihautu the navigator.

Me feeling small and insignificant standing next to the magnificent Marotini the kumara goddess.

We were feeling sore but elated by the time we got back to base camp, but oddly I still had energy to spare and went for a walk around the village with my sister who had come to join us for the next part of our journey.

That night I measured the energy flow in my chakras and meridians and compared it to the reading I did on myself before I left Auckland. I suspected I might see a slight increase in my energy flow, but was very surprised to see it had jumped a lot higher than expected.

That night Milou initiated a debriefing session so we could share our insights. I was delighted when she presented me with a charmingly illustrated storyboard she had created to visually describe her experiences. It was the perfect end to an incredible first day.


As we emerged from our accommodation early the next morning, a cheerful rainbow over Kura Tawhiti greeted us. It was accompanied by a full moon which hung in the sky above it and looked out of place against the gloriously blue sky.

The three of us drove to Flock Hill and once again made our introductions when we were stopped at the invisible boundary line. Once again our signs appeared giving us permission to enter. (We also had permission from the owners of Flock Hill Station, which is private land.) This was the hill where I had first met the local spirits seventeen years before and I was very excited to be back again. I had no idea what to expect from this visit.

I recognised areas where we had filmed the Narnia battle scenes and we followed my nostalgic memories up a steep gully to a high ridge of boulders overlooking the whole valley. Amongst the many hundreds of unusual looking boulders one in particular caught my eye and it beckoned me like a beacon. As I approached I felt the familiar magnetic pull of an energy vortex ahead. Some dowsing revealed that this vortex was different, part of it spiralled clockwise and another part anticlockwise, which made me wonder if it was the intersection of two different energy currents. If I had more time I would have liked to find out, but it was not on our list of priorities, so it would have to wait until our next visit.

This double vortex rock felt special and we decided it was the most appropriate place to play the music we had been guided to bring with us. Mary-Louise was the instrumental section of our orchestra and I was our drummer.