For Jesse’s birthday this year we decided to go on an adventure. The mountains called – so we drove the two hours towards Arthur’s Pass and the West Coast, along one of the most beautiful roads I’ve ever travelled.
SH73 boasts incredible scenery, sweeping vistas and epic landscapes – seriously cinematic stuff. We found some pretty great places for photography along the way. Yet to edit the photos we took, but hopefully there are some keepers amongst the hundreds of images captured.
We drove past many trailheads on our way to Arthur’s Pass. The Torlesse Tussocklands Park looks like a good place to return to once the weather cools a little (but not too much – easy to imagine it snowbound during winter!). Once at Arthur’s Pass we made a quick stop at the DOC visitors’ centre to look at maps of the area, and we decided to do the short walk to the Devils Punchbowl waterfall. Choosing to do this in the height of the summer tourist season meant that we were not alone, not by a long shot – so we decided to grab some tranquility where we could and headed first up the Arthur’s Pass Track to make the forty-minute return trip to the Bridal Veil Falls viewpoint. This was a beautiful walk through beech forest and with a reasonably gentle climb to a spectacular outlook towards the falls in one direction and back towards Arthur’s Pass Village in the other direction. We saw a few tomtits in the trees beside the trail – very cute little birds.
Once we’d returned to the Bealey River, we tackled the Devils Punchbowl trail. The track is very well maintained, and extremely heavily used – this is a popular short walk and there were lots of other people heading to the waterfall. It’s described as an ‘easy’ walk but it is quite steep and features a large number of steps – big steps that are rather challenging for little legs like mine! A great workout, though, with a fantastic payoff at the end – a stunning view of a thundering waterfall.
Hungry after our big walk, we continued the drive along the highway to Otira. We stopped at the Otira Viaduct lookout, where we finally spotted a kea, and we admired the Viaduct, a beautiful feat of engineering which was inaugurated in 1999. The rata was in flower, so the mountains were dusted with red all the way to Otira. We stopped at the Otira Stagecoach Hotel for a late lunch of toasted sandwich (me) and fish & chips (Jesse), both very tasty. We then headed back along the highway to North Canterbury for a venison burger and carrot cake dinner at home.
A beautiful drive, a fantastic bush walk, and a great day out.