A-Z of NZ Locations, New Zealand, The Motorhoming Years

A-Z of NZ Locations – Duntroon

In my series of A-Z of NZ Locations, I will take you for a meander around areas that are unique gems, some yet to be polished though worth a visit for either historical reasons, culinary delights or for the sheer vistas.

We leave the Catlins Coast on an overcast morning. Heading northwards and a meander around Kaka Point is an excellent stop for stretching your legs. Bypassing the oft-grey, moody little city of Dunedin, we head inland from the Pacific Coast north of the wider Otago region to the southern part of the great Canterbury area.


Farmland stretches either side of the highway until we reach the wee town of Duntroon, population 114, which could have increased by now. It was named after the Campbell family castle Duntrune, from 1825, on Loch Crinan in Argyll, Scotland. 

St Martin’s Church was opened in August 1901. It is built of Oamaru stone and has a tower and belfry, with seating available for a hundred worshippers around the Waitaki district.

Inside Saint Martin’s Church

Duntroon is a pleasant, sleepy hollow and a place we enjoyed for it’s history and geology. To gain some inside knowledge before heading to Elephant Rock we visited the Vanished World Heritage Centre, which is staffed by enthusiastic volunteers, it gave us an overall view of the geological area. In between those we visited St Martin’s church. Then chatted over coffee and substance at The Flying Pig Cafe.

A large piece of cake needed to be worked off, and deciding a walk through the wetlands was a must-do. As with most small “blink and you will miss it” type places, there are always attractions when arriving or leaving.

Elephant Rock

On a good day, a spectacularly wide overview of the boulder field, farmland and hills, with the Southern Alps in the background can be enjoyed. It has been described as a photographer’s delight, a gift for energetic kids during a road trip to a playground for novice boulderers.

All that aside, it is a natural wonderland that forms part of the Waitaki Whitestone Geopark which is a large cluster of artistically sculpted rocks that stick out of a flat and neatly sheep-grazed paddock.

Many millions of years of uplift and weathering have rounded all the edges and carved the rocks into an entertainingly varied range of shapes: best of all the limestone is full of fossils, so close inspection will reveal even more creatures.

For, perhaps more motivation to explore the Waitaki district is the image below of the Omarama Clay Cliffs, an hour’s drive from Duntroon.

28 thoughts on “A-Z of NZ Locations – Duntroon”

  1. Hello Suzanne and thank you for sharing your trip with us at WBOYC? The rock formations are great and I always love a historic church. We visited Tasmania in October for a driving holiday and Duntroon in NZ sounds just the perfect place to visit on a driving holiday. Take care and look forward to you joining us next month x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Sue, yes I remember reading about your trip and it is one place we have yet to explore. Perhaps one day. Not many straight roads like Australia more challenging shall we say. Hopefully I will remember to head on over.


  2. Reading the first part of this post I was imagining a quiet little spot where you might stop for a coffee but find relatively little of interest (pretty church excepted). Then I came to those rock formations and started to realise how much more there was to this area. And the Omarama Clay Cliffs look stunning – wow!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. When I first looked at the rock I saw a whale not an elephant, but then I did see the elephant. I think. The church is lovely. I actually prefer the simple, plain and naturally decorated churches to the often gaudy overblown ones. This one looks like a bright and peaceful place.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jude, that image wasn’t supposed to portray an elephant; many others looked more the part. You are correct about the whale. I agree regarding smaller, more intimate churches that reflect the community. However, I admire the architecture of the more elaborate ones in Europe and the UK.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. The small towns around New Zealand can have the unexpected, and I am certainly finding a few gems I have forgotten about; one day, we may even revisit them in person. That figure could be a nomadic gold digger πŸ˜‰

      Liked by 1 person

    1. So pleased you are enjoying your virtual tiki tour of Aotearoa. I am trying not to sound too much like a tourist guide and want it to be more of a casual introduction πŸ˜‰

      Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s wonderful you had a fabulous time in New Zealand. Fewer people make driving around the South Island very pleasurable, and you are correct regarding that road; amazingly scenic.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. This is such an interesting way to show us around your countryside Suz! Thanks for introducing us to Duntroon, it’s nothing like the Canberra version! The inside of that church is so beautiful and what a small population the town has! Thanks for joining us for WBOYC, it’s always great to have you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks very much, Deb. Perhaps you and Grant will revisit another year when you don’t have grandparenting travels. How do I get prompts about when the WBOYC is available to participate?

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Beautiful. What a fascinating place. The canyon! Wow.

    I wanted to share photos of the Elephant Rocks near me but no good links to photos — but this might work… https://www.artpal.com/johnmcevoyphoto?i=93696-84

    They are named because the mammoths rubbed against them and you can see places where they did that. It’s one of the coolest places in my immediate (20 minute drive) area. I’ll put a photo on a post soon so you can see.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks very much for the information, Martha and I am suitably impressed. Nature is a stunner. John McEvoy has a brilliant eye to bring out the best in your local area. That was a treat.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. It would be challenging to find beauty around an army training centre. We have visited Canberra, and you certainly have many other stunning places. Thanks for commenting.


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