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Published: February 17th 2010
Christchurch to Arthur’s Pass in the New Zealand Alps -
Tuesday, Feb. 16 -
Nelson and our charming California House B&B, plus owners - Ray and Janice Evans. We truly enjoyed our stay with them and they were so fun! Nelson is a fabulous town of 45,000, with great restaurants, cathedral, main street and comfortable feel.
We flew from Nelson to Christchurch on another prop jet…..over the mountains. Arriving in Christchurch, we picked up our rental car - a Toyota Camry which we hope has no accelerator issues! and driving on the opposite side of the road! Of course, I am the driver, as everyone who knows, since it is best if I drive and Roy navigates or takes pictures. The drive was easy and we quickly drove thru small towns to a 2 way road heading into the NZ Alps. The terrain looked much like Lord of the Rings and we arrived at our lodging 2 hours later - Wilderness Lodge at Arthur’s Pass - in Canterbury, the heart of the Southern Alps. Wow…..an impressive mountain lodge, unlike anything we have experienced in the states. Anne and Gerry are the most wonderful owners, and Gerry is a PhD
in ecology/biology. He is known countrywide for his sustainability and conservation efforts. The lodge is nationally recognized for its design and integration into the local landscape. Our “alpine lodge room” truly is exquisite - looking out 2 huge picture windows over Mt. Rolleston, with a fireplace, balcony, spa bathroom, etc. Meals are included and we’ve had the pleasure of being seated with other guests for our dinners. The food has been outstanding.
The beauty of this lodge is that Gerry also gives “Guided Activities”, for those interested. Last night we went on a “High Country Sheep Station and Discovery Tour” with about 8 other guests. We helped muster sheep with their Border Collie - Tess! Gerry owns 4000 sheep on 6000 acres of land. This property is amazing, to say the least. Tess rounded up about 50 sheep and kept them tightly circled while Gerry educated us about these merino wool sheep, with their pink noses and cute faces. We got to hold them for pictures, after Gerry caught 2 of them. The lessons involving these sheep and their wool was fascinating. We headed to the shearing shed to learn more about fine merino wool and to watch
one sheep be sheared - by hand, all in one piece! This is the only farm that still hand shears its sheep and we were allowed to hold the shears with Gerry. Remarkable.
Today we headed off on an adventure with Gerry as our personal guide for the day since no others signed up. With the forecast for afternoon rain, we modified out plans to head east - not west. Gerry took us to alpine Lake Pearson, where we took single kayaks to observe the tranquil setting, birds, wildlife and to sit on the beach having tea. This was followed by a 4 wheel drive to the end of the mountain road, 5000 ft, above tree line, where we came across Geology students/instructors who were mapping this region of limestone, etc. We had lunch by an alpine stream, followed by a trek to a Maori river cave, which we did not explore, as water is waist deep. Our day ended in the rain, where the 3 of us dug up and cut down 150 California Douglas fir treelings, which are a misguided local forestry attempt, which are ruining NZ’s natural plant growth. What a fabulous day it was. Now
off to the west and the NZ glaciers.
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