Arthur's Pass

There's no quick and easy way to get from the West coast to the East coast of New Zealand, but there are several long, scenic routes.  We took Arthur's Pass, which took us North from the glaciers and then cut across the centre.  This was the day we really appreciated the giant 12-passenger van we had rented - Anita, Missy, and Amanda each got a row to themselves to nap along the way.  Meanwhile driver Phil kept us moving and I "helped".  

We stopped for lunch in a cute little town called Hokitika.  It's claim to fame is a driftwood festival that takes place every January.  The goal is to create art from anything found on the beach.  There were still quite a few random and interesting sculptures still on display.  The other claim is the pizza, so despite our having pizza for dinner the previous night, and for some of us breakfast that day, we decided we couldn't hit the road without giving it a go. 
Hokitika Driftwood Sign
Back on the road, we headed East and wound our way through hours and hours of green trees.  The road got steeper and a bit crazy as we passed a little area called Otira.  There was a viewpoint, so we had to stop off and look back at what we had just crossed.  The road was covered in one stretch, and just passed that was a man-made waterfall passing overhead.  According to the google the road is covered to protect cars and the road from falling rocks, and the water channel is a sluice that funnels water over rather than on the road.  Cool.
When we parked at the lookout the car next to us had a big parrot hopping around inside.  Turns out the girl had a muffin and the Kea was ready for a meal.  He pulled the muffin out of the car and his friend came over to help him eat.  
Cheeky Keas with their stolen snack
Down the road a few km more we came to the town of Arthur's Pass.  It was a great spot to stretch our legs and take a walk to explore the Devil's Punchbowl Waterfall.
Devil's Punchbowl Waterfall

We hit the road again and made one more stop before Christchurch - Castle Hill.  I told everyone we were stopping to see some rocks, and they were wondering what the big deal was with rocks.  We walked down a path towards the rocks and passed Asian tourists taking weird pictures and rock climbers with crash mats heading back to their cars.  

We got to the base, and all five of us started quietly wandering around the boulders.  They were giant, everywhere, and in really neat formations.  We probably spent an hour climbing around on the rocks, every turn gave a crazy new view and it was all amazing and awe-inspiring.  By the time we left, everyone agreed that these were some very cool rocks.

Another hour on the road to our last stop, Christchurch.


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