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Published: August 5th 2009
What a Differences a Day Makes
The ice and snow had been cleared from the roads the previous day, a beautiful blue cloudless day and a road sign “No Chains Required”
, that was the only sign we needed to see as we wound our way along the narrow roads towards Arthur's Pass, we were told that half the beauty of Arthur's Pass is the journey to Arthur's Pass Village and it didn't disappoint in any shape or form, absolutely Jaw dropping landscapes change with every corner.
The further towards the top we got the more dramatic the mountains and the more snowy it became, until we reached the valley where Arthur's Pass village was located. Judging by the amount of snow covering some of the cars that had been parked up we were lucky that the roads were clear at all. We headed up to the Devil's Punch Bowl, a waterfall reached via a path that took us through the picturesque snowy tree's on the dark side of the mountain, where the temperature drops, awaiting the afternoon sun that never comes. The cold walk up and down frozen walkways, dodging the strange bloke from Christchurch (that's for another time), slowly
at the Devil's Punch Bowl, Arthur's Pass
making our way up to the viewing platform for the Devil's Punch Bowl falls. A stunning waterfall framed with a snowy outline, is was only when you stopped to look at something (in this case the falls) that you realised just how cold it was, luckily we were never far away from a hot drink and a Tim Tam!
Kea's Don't Have Lips!!!
Meet the Kea's, the worlds only Alpine parrot, the mischievous prankster of the skies. The Jekyll and Hyde of the bird world, with their endearing lopsided and sideways swagger, they lure you in, sometimes posing for the camera, but as soon as your back is turned, their scavenging curiosity takes over, sinking their beaks into your wing mirrors, car aerial, making minced meat of tents, shoes, bags in fact anything left outside and are found in Arthur's Pass!
We were pulling into yet another lookout and were immediately ambushed by a lone Kea, we hadn't even stopped before it tried sinking its beak into the windscreens seal then the wipers, we reacted just as soon as we had taken some pictures, well it is a hired car!
We didn't do what most people do and
carry on through to Christchurch from Arthur's Pass, instead we returned the same way we came in, heading back to the West Coast. Once again the scenery didn't disappoint, making one of the most spectacular rear view mirror views you will ever be likely to see looking forward that reflects backwards (if you get our drift!)! Back on the West Coast heading south and we were reaching a very important time of the day, the backbone of our traveling day, it's not quite breakfast and far too early to stop for lunch. Elevenses is all about time and location and this Muffin stop had brought us to Lake Mahinapua, simply the best place to sit and eat your elevenses muffin with picture perfect snow capped mountains reflecting in the stillness of Lake Mahinapua providing a mirror image. Once fully charged, we were ready for the open road again.
The Glacier Twins!
The grinding movement of the powder blue glaciers that shaped much of the valleys around the world many years past are still shaping the Fox and Franz Josef area today as they slowly grind their way down into the valley. We only saw these ancient land shapers from
a safe distance. The closest we got to a glacier was at Franz, a walk to the foot of the glacier; a dried river bed which was once awash with glacial water, getting colder with every step towards the icy mountain. The dieing sun shedding its last light turning the icy valley blue. Stunning walks around both glaciers but the cherry on the frosted peak was the reflection of Mt Cook Aoraki
and Mt Tasman in Lake Matheson, the day before we only saw cloud reflecting but were lucky enough to get one of the most popular calendar shots for ourselves.
After setting off from the glaciers and wending our merry way we followed more stunning coastline with snowy mountain backdrops, apologies if we seem to be sounding like a gone wrong record with our scenic descriptions but it really is so beautiful around every corner, we are now running out of words to describe this scenery.
Will we ever see the splish, splash, splosh of dolphins?
Until this point our wildlife encounters had been pretty limited in NZ even though we spend much time longingly looking out across the ocean for whales and dolphins, which had so
playing in Jackson Bay
far eluded us but today this was all set to change. During a beach walk, on yet another crowded beach consisting of Kirstin and Rob, we were looking for Hector dolphins (the world's smallest dolphin), we were in their territory; just as we were about to leave we could see something in the distance moving.......or was it our eyes playing tricks on us again? Rob darted to the car to get the binoculars for a closer inspection and there they were flick, flacking and somersaulting in the water. Our first Kiwi dolphin experience albeit a little further away than we would have liked but wildlife spotters have to take what comes their way, that's what keeps you looking out, you never know what you'll see next.
As we followed the remote road to Jackson Bay a tiny fishing village untouched by time, our next wildlife encounter came as we spotted a large pod of Dusky Dolphins sweeping the bay, they came pretty close and were putting on a great performance as they jumped their way around the bay. It's like waiting for a bus, none come along and then they all come together but in the dolphins case it's
We couldn't decide if we preferred the black & white or colour pic, so we added both! View from Coronet Peak Skifield
a much more worthwhile wait!
The White Stuff
We rang the hostels in Wanaka, all fully booked, we rang the hostels in Arrowtown, a beautiful small village outside Queenstown, we were trying to avoid staying in Queenstown on account of its party and vomit stained town reputation, oh how your age creeps up on you and suddenly the quiet life seems much more appealing! Luckily we managed to squeeze into a hostel in Arrowtown, everywhere packed on account of the ski season. After all is said and done, there is Ferg Burger, a burger joint in Queenstown that do the best burgers!
Rob was suited out in his hire gear and not bad gear to-boot, he was ready to hit the slopes.
Boarding/Ski in NZ has a very different feel to say boarding in Europe, here you jump into your car and drive an hour just to get to the ski fields, more a North American feel, what's also different from our European cousins is the orderly queuing system, suited to the reserved Englishman like myself! No more pushing in by the French, the Italians taking up a loads of space talking with their hands and the German's
reserving their chairlift seat! I only jest (bar the French comment!)
Hangin with de Kidz In Rob's very own words
Am I getting older or are kids getting younger? I used to think I was down with the kids, talk a bit of street slang, init! Hang ten with the surfers, talk powder with the Snowdudes, that was until the day I sat on a chairlift going up Mt Coronet. The conversation went something like this:-
Snowdude 1 - Dudeman, that line looks pretty gnarly (as he looked down from the chairlift)
Snowdude 2 - Dude, like seriously? That looks totally awesome.
Snowdude 3 - But Dude, the lines sweet as Bro, Sweet ride by all Bro.
Snowdude 2 - Duuuuude
Snowdude 1 - .......dude?
Snowdude 3 - DUDE!
Snowdude 1,2 & 3 - Sweet!
I must be getting old because I didn't get the gist of the conversation at all, I'm just glad they didn't ask my opinion because I would have probably panicked and blurted out something like “Wot up me brother? Cut me some slack Mack and give me space to bust some phat illin moves, coz me ain't down with dat grove. Word Up!"
All in all I had a great couple of days boarding, icy in patches, rocky in others but as Snowdude 3 quoted “But Dude, the lines sweet as Bro, Sweet ride by all Bro!” And it was.
Did the Earth Move For You?
It's not everyday that you sit in your hostel relaxing all cozy and warm, when the room which you're sitting in starts to move in a rolling motion, first you think you're imagining it, then you think it's a huge lorry passing, even though lorries can't fit down our quiet back street, at this point noticing the lampshades were swaying, we looked at each other and realised we were sitting in an EARTHQUAKE
. We just sat there rolling up and down in a rowing boat type fashion. It wasn't until the next day that we realised the force of the quake measured 7.8 on the Richter scale (we were only 200km's from the epicentre), it was the biggest in New Zealand (and they are not unusual here) since the 30's which flattened Napier. No one can believe a handful of landslides was the only damage, give or take a bottle or two!
was lucky enough to celebrate his birthday in such a beautiful place with the sun shining, by way of a birthday treat we went for breakfast in a French Café, after our daily porridge breakfast, crépes and freshly baked breads/croissants with butter and jam was a treat - tres bon! This is the day we were leaving to move on, as we neared Fiordland the weather closed in but birthday cake (chocolate muffins!) by a toasty hostel fire made it all seem much brighter outside.
The Fiordland weather is notoriously changeable, we were hoping for a glint of sun for our Milford Sound visit. Many thanks for all Rob's Birthday messages, he had a great time
Until the next time
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