We loved it up Arthur’s Pass

2 minute read

:: West Coast Photos (pt 1) ::

And, we’re back. From our internet-free week of travels down the west coast of the south island.

Whenever we mentioned to people our plans, they would tell us without fail about how scary the road is over Arthur’s Pass, one of the main trans-alpine road passes. Scary but staggeringly beautiful.

So, with a little trepidation, we set off just after 7am (to beat the traffic, in proper ‘Dad’ style) and headed on the long road out of Christchurch. And for ages, let me tell you, it is pretty flat. One of the places you head through is Sheffield, so I stopped for an almost obligatory roadsign photo, but we were eager to press on, so it was a very short stop indeed.

But then we hit the mountains – but one of the only reasons we noticed was that the beautiful blue sky / sunshine combo we had left behind started to turn cloudy, then misty, then rainy and grey. And, before we knew it, we were at the Pass. I think either I was expecting much worse, or that my impending rally-driving day is truly unnecessary, because the roads weren’t that bad at all and I couldn’t believe that we had climbed up all that way. A couple of nice hairpin bends and some truly staggering scenery were the only accompaniment to us and our Tina Turner karaoke car. We made a couple of toilet and photo stops on the way, but made it over to Hokitika in pretty good time, ready enough for some nice brunch anyhow.

Then a quick spurt down the road to get to Franz Josef, for our Rainforest Retreat. I booked it thinking we would get a treehouse (as they are called), but instead it was just a cabin. A very nice cabin, but not a treehouse. I am still contemplating a strongly-worded letter to the trading standards people. We were also attacked in the night by animals that made strange noises. But they might have been cats, I am not sure. Then, the next day, disaster struck.

Cloud. Lots of it.

We had taken an early morning drive to Lake Mathieson to view Mount Cook from a reflection in the lake, and our luck held with 20 minues of clear weather to have a nice walk and snap a couple of pictures. But the drive back to Franz Josef was grey, grey, grey and the helicopter flight was cancelled. So we took a hike, as essentially it’s the same thing, but with a 40 minute walk instead of the helicopter ride, and boy was it cool – in both senses of the word! Seeing the terminal face of the glacier up close was incredible, and scary too as big bits of the glacier kept breaking off as we were putting on our ice spikes. George was a panicky wreck, but my manly powers helped her through the experience, and everything turned out splendidly, if only a little unscheduled.

Then, a few hours later than planned, we headed off down the coast to the Makarora wilderness resort, where we stayed in a wicked A-frame cabin. I love crazy hostels!

:: West Coast Photos (pt 1) ::