New Zealand, 2009-12-04

2010 July 6
by barclay

Friday is a day of driving.  We trying to make it across and down the South Island to Franz Josef, 380km away through some winding mountain roads.  Shortly after exiting the Christchurch suburbs, we’re struck by the scenery.  It’s positively gorgeous, and as the trip evolves, continually changing.

Along the way we stop at some interesting outcroppings of rock, notice a trailhead, and scramble up the hill for some light hiking.  We find out later this location, Castle Hill, was one of the locations for Lord of the Rings filming.  I can understand why.

Castle Hill

Castle HillCastle HillCastle Hill

Just after Castle Hill we pass Cave Stream, and we make a note of it to ask some locals about it.  Perhaps we can hit it on the way back, but we also want to make sure we hit the Devil’s Punchbowl hike in Arthur’s Pass.  It’s a short hike, just a few kilometers from where we started, and worth it.

Devil's Punchbowl

Once we hit Jacksons — a town consisting of a bar/restaurant, near as we could tell — the terrain started flattening out.  We each had some sort of meat pie, which would slowly becomes a favorite treat of ours, relaxed for a few, then hit the road again since our little four-banger wasn’t exactly a speed demon and we heard it gets slow-going further down the road due to sharp turns, narrow roads, and single-lane bridges.

West Coast South Island

I feel awkward trying to describe in words the beauty of that initial jaunt across the South Island.  I think the accompanying pictures, although they pale in comparison to the personal experience, will do far better than I ever could.  The only part which doesn’t deserve a photo is the rambunctious group of students at the Franz Josef YHA that got so drunk some of them threw up all over there rooms and the bathrooms.  Yuck.  But, we weren’t in New Zealand to hang out indoors.

West Coast South Island

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