The last time I ended the blog post with a dip in the hot springs. I won’t end this post with more pictures though we did find more hot springs about two weeks later.Man did we put some miles on the camper van before then. Here’s a story of some of them while we ride the ferry back to Wellington.
We got lucky when we managed to pass the Church of the Good Shepherd during the day. We’d thought we’d passed it in the dark on the way to Lake Tekapo. Actually, we passed it on the way out of town. This small church erected in 1935 was intended to show the glory of God and as a memorial to the pioneers of Mackenzie County. Quite beautiful, eh?
Next stop was Christchurch, known by the abbreviation ChCh. We stayed with this lovely women who first really tuned us into how bad the earthquake three years ago really was. She has several people camped in her yard in caravans as it’s really hard for single people to find affordable housing still. As well, the goat Crystal is also a refugee. Maureen adopted the Angora goat as a kid when her original owners had to move after the quake.
Further exploration of ChCh led us to a new friend I had originally met in Auckland; and her partner. Unfortunately they were both in various stages of recovery from a respiratory bug. I think that actually works as a metaphor for Christchurch as well. It’s in recovery. Streets have changed or been blocked off, buildings await either demolition or reformation, and the people here endure. We didn’t do much here due to bad weather, difficulties traversing the streets and a sick day. We did manage to drive out to Summit Hill though and took a look at Godly Head Reserve. Beautiful up there, but we needed to move on.
Marc surprised me wanting to do the other two passes but I’m glad he did. We headed towards Arthur’s pass first and stopped at Castle Hill. Part of Narnia was filmed here among these limestone rocks. It was like an amazing adult playground to us. We tramped around and through the stones for a while taking amazing pictures and marveling at the weird shapes. Almost hard to believe this wasn’t made by Hollywood.We loved it.
Further up the pass the same day Marc spotted some Keas! They were hanging out by Deaths Corner and as we were quick to discover, skilled at shaking down tourists for treats. As soon as I opened the door I had four of ’em hop/running towards me. They really liked grapes but didn’t know what to do with the rye crisps. This belies the whole “Polly want a cracker” thing. These alpine parrots want grapes, though pineapple isn’t rejected either as we found out later. They were awesome!
We plugged in at the Otira Hotel that night. Marc remembered them from a Google Earth search he had done back in the states and shared with me. We had marveled at how anyone could live here with so little around. It was a wild night, the wind whipping through the pass and the occasional train passing down the tracks. Like so many places we’ve passed, the hotel is for sale, though I think it takes a special breed to run a hotel in the winter when the tourist trade winds down. Lonely there.
We ended up going back to Deaths Corner to try to find the Keas again. They were out doing Kea things so instead Marc risked his life above the viaduct. It was another windy day and he had just bought a new cap at the Otira hotel which the wind whipped away fifteen minutes later. Luckily he managed to retrieve it without becoming a casualty himself.
In all this we didn’t manage another tramp until the Devils Punchbowl outside of Arthur’s Pass. The tramp itself isn’t too far, but as it’s to a waterfall there are a bunch of steps before you get to the viewing platform. It was great though. Lush greenery, with snow-capped mountain peaks in the distance and hanging moss on the trees. Reminded me of a rainforest. We climbed past the platform and while I stayed a bit further away from the bowl, Marc climbed right down to it for some incredible pictures.
The same day we tramped a bit of Scotts Track which is across the way from Devils Punchbowl. This track was really cool and if you do it all, it takes you all the way up to Avalanche Peake. After the morning tramp though, we didn’t feel the need for a further four hours of climbing. We were happy to climb for another hour or so until we could see the town of Arthur’s Pass below us and across from us Devils Punchbowl falls and a little further distant; Bridal Veil Falls. The track was all exposed rock and gravel and it seemed to almost be almost dry stream bed. Really cool.
I’m gonna close this with a few more pictures of the Keas. We did get to see the crew one more time and in sunlight no less. We’re back on the north island now and waiting on the Indonesian Embassy for our next visas. It’s supposed to rain most of the rest of this week so hopefully I can catch you up on Lewis Pass to Kaikoura fairly soon. In the meantime…….. Keas!