We crossed over to the west side of the south island at Arthur’s Pass in a downpour. We drove to the small village of Okarito on the coast where we would have gone kayaking if not for the rain. Instead we went for a short walk in the wetlands and rainforest. It was beautiful in the forest, but then the rain returned so we turned back.
The next day was overcast but the rain had passed. We were off to the Alex Knob Track, 10 miles with an elevation gain of 3,600 ft. The rainforest was steamy from the previous day’s rains as we started.
On our way, there were two places where there was an opening in the trees to give us a view of the Franz Josef Glacier. Unfortunately, when we reached the top at Alex Knob we were in the clouds and there was no view.
The next day we drove to Lake Wanaka (back to the dryer side of the island) with lots of stops and photo opps. The day after that we did the hardest hike of the trip. Roy’s Peak Track was 10 miles with a nonstop gain of 4,000 feet. The weather was great and the views were magnificent!
This is the first of several posts about my recent trip to New Zealand. I went with five others from the local San Diego meetup group. I had heard many good things about New Zealand and it lived up to and surpassed its reputation. It’s hard to pick a favorite place or activity because there were so many, but here are a few highlights from the first 4 days.
After arriving our first day, we headed out to the Banks Peninsula. The drive was beautiful, through rolling hills. On the way we stopped in Little River to visit a friend. This is his home, which made me think of a hobbit home with its round windows. We had a great short visit and left with apples and plums, fresh from his trees.
Next, we headed to Akaroa Harbor for a cruise on the bay and into the ocean, just beyond the mouth of the bay. On the way we saw hector dolphins, penguins and sea lions. My favorite part of the cruise were the colorful cliffs on shore. The Banks Peninsula was formed by an ancient volcano. The bay is the crater of the volcano. Amazing place!
After our cruise we headed back to Christchurch. On the way we stopped for a short hike on the Onawe Peninsula, a small peninsula hanging like a pendant necklace in the bay.
The next day we left Christchurch for Arthur’s Pass National Park. On the way we stopped at Cave Stream, where we hiked in an underground river flowing through a cave. The water was usually ankle or calf deep, but in places was waist deep. Six-hundred meters and an hour later we emerged at the other end of the cave.
The following day we did our first big hike of the trip to Bealey Spur. It was about 10 miles with an elevation gain of about 2,600 feet. We started the hike at the level of the river (pictured below), hiking in forest. Toward the end we emerged above the trees with expansive views below and of a storm coming from the west.