Wednesday, March 12, 2014

New Zealand Day 29: To Arthur's Pass!

Last night, we considered a variety of travel plans for our last two weeks in New Zealand. Should we go south along the east coast to Dunedin and see some penguins? Back to Queenstown to paraglide and then Glenorchy for horseback riding? Eventually we decided that both of those plans were too ambitious and that we would start with some time in Arthur's Pass, then head north along the east coast.

There are several ways to get through the Southern Alps from coast to coast on the South Island. We'd taken one pass, the Haast Pass, on our way from the West Coast to the southern lakes. Arthur's Pass is the highest pass, known for great hiking.

It took us awhile to pack the car in the morning—we had acquired a lot of stuff (especially food) from campervanning! Then mom and I did a short grocery shopping trip before we set out.

It was a beautiful drive, which we broke partway at Castle Hill, a hillside covered in limestone boulders in various shapes. It was used for filming for The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and it was a great place for B to stretch her legs with some scrambling!

Then we pressed on to Arthur's Pass Village, which is almost at the high point. The first priority was a stop at the iSite, mainly for the DoC info. It had been looking like decent weather for tomorrow and I was planning a big tramp, if so. Yes, the lady confirmed, it was looking really good. Excellent!

We retreated to our really lovely cabin at the Arthur's Pass Alpine Motel and made a yummy dinner. Towards nightfall one of the owners came and turned on our gas fireplace for us. Delightful! Except the sandflies had snuck in through some open windows that we hadn't noticed. That was the only bad part.

The other highlight of the day was receiving word that Alex was finally back home. We'd been following his travels throughout the day and were very relieved to learn that he'd arrived back at our house safe and sound. We do miss him, though!

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