The Otira Gorge is west of Arthur's Pass. It is a steep gorge and until recently was only able to be traversed by a narrow winding road that was dangerous due to land slips and avalanches.
The Otira Viaduct was completed in 1999. The road features an avalanche protection tunnel and passes under a diverted waterfall.
Just out of the Arthur's Pass township is a turn-off to the left which takes you to point giving a fantastic view of the viaduct.
A must see while in the past for either 20mins or 2 days is the Department of Conservation office (or as us Kiwis say "DOC" as in the dwarf).
There is heaps of history about the area and also some very up-to-date information on local weather and track conditions.
Endemic to the Southern Alps of New Zealand, the Kea is the world’s only alpine parrot. One of the world’s most intelligent creatures, the Kea is a notorious trickster which likes nothing more than destroying property. Especially fond of rubber, Keas have been known to strip cars of their windshield wipers, roof racks, and the rubber casings around car windows. Nearly everyone agrees that this destructive behavior is funny and fun to watch, unless it is happening to you. In two days in Arthur’s Pass, I was lucky enough to observe several mischievous Keas firsthand, and they kept me amused nearly the entire time. I watched Keas steal sandwiches, pull at shoestrings, rip at garbage, chew on a rubber foot mat, chew on chairs, and tug on rucksacks. The most entertaining episode was when one of the Keas stole a sandwich encased in plastic off a table at the Arthur’s Pass Store. The sandwich’s rightful owner chased after the Kea into the bush, cursing at it as he went. As he crashed through the bushes, the Kea ripped the plastic in half and flew off with most of the sandwich, leaving the man muttering to himself. Quite hilarious.
Keas are native alpine parrots, and like all parrots, they are intelligent, cheeky and mischevious. In particular, they seem to have a real fondness for rubber, and anything belonging to a car hire company. Left to their own devices, yes they WILL chew your windscreen wipers, your arial, the rubber around your windshield.
Most people will tell you to be very very wary of them.
Unless there is a real crowd at the lookout (in peak summer there probably will be) then if you take a little time, you can watch these funny birds get up to all sorts of antics without sacrificing your wipers. We let them play with a length of rope, a watch (OK, we briefly tolerated them on the back of the ute) and then stared in astonishment as one of the birds dragged an old abandoned drinks can out from behind a rock, seemingly a favourite toy stashed away for special occasions! Woodstock Bourbon, would you believe!
The sign says not to feed them. Please don't. But do enjoy spending time with them.
I dithered for a while - should Lake Lyndon be Things To Do or Off The Beaten Path? Well, it isn't really off the beaten path - you are going to drive right by it - but you might drive straight past. Do try not to. This pretty glacial lake, surrounded by low-ish peaks - Mount Lyndon is the highest at 1,476 meters - is a good place to stop, stretch you legs, maybe enjoy a picnic lunch. There is a good shelter if weather is poor. The last time I stopped at Lyndon, when these photos were taken, the lake levels were particularly low, at the start of winter.
If you have time for a detour, an unsealed gravel road will take you to the much larger Lake Coleridge and the braided Rakaia River, but you will need to double back in order to continue your journey onto Arthurs Pass.
New Zealand often uses its lakes, mountains and coasts on its postage stamps - a frosty Lake Lyndon illustrated the 40c stamp in the Scenic Reflection stamps issued in 2000.
Make sure you stop off at some of the lookouts along the way on your drive from Christchurch to Arthur's Pass...there is so much to see along the way!!! The wildflowers are so pretty and they are everywhere...at least they were when we were there in December... ;)
This is the first time I have seen an acrons tree.
These has dried up in time for Christmas decoration at home.
I was so tempted to bring home a big one but I guess I may not made it thru to the customs or will be questioned or fined at the immigrations.
Every visitor to Arthur’s Pass can enjoy the magnificant sceneries because it is so close to hand.
From the highway you can view Mt Rolleston which rises majestically above the forest.
These mountains which still have their snow caps on, offers endless opportunities for photography.
I believe there are more sheep than human beings in South Island ;p
Just opposite the Castle Hill is the Castle Hill Station.
Castle Hill Station is a working farm, no access.
The backdrop is a beautiful mountain.
The farm is where the sheep roam around.
We rarely see cars on the road but this is where all the cars stopped by and staring in amazed what nature has given to us.
just don't drive like the devil is behind you, stop the car, get out, have a picnic better.....take a walk, explore whats beyond the road. Castle Hill, Cave Stream comes to my mind. all is very well signed out, you can't miss it.
Castle Hill right by the Road halfway to the Pass, always reminds me a little of Stonehenge, nothing like it realy, just reminds me of Stonehenge. but I think you get my drift, we all see what we wanna see
It is cold and wet as we stand on the train station, and we wait and wait and wait. Eventually the train turns up, 40 minutes late.
We have reserved seats, and the train is quite plush. The scenery coming out of the pass is extremely spectacular with mountains, valleys, rivers and tunnels (plus the odd sheep), but once it levels out on Canterbury Plain it becomes flat and almost boring.
I had been sleeping all the way from Franz Josef Glacier, but once we start to climb up through Arthur's Pass, I defy anybody to sleep. It is so steep, with the edge of the road having been swept away in landslides.
The Visitor information centre is a great place to start your trip or adventure in the region, with a lot of maps and information to be found here.
There's also a register where you can sign on and let people know where you've gone on your treks and when you expect to be back, in case you don't return.
They also hire out radios in case of emergencies.
The information on all the flora and fauna found in the area is really extensive, and there's an interesting history section all about the building of the bridge and tunnel.
This is a great day hike or overnight trip just out of Arthurs Pass. Bealey Spur starts just before the Bealey Pub and heads upwards through Beech Forest to a small hut in a clearing. The walk up will take about 2-3 hours depending on fitness and what you are carrying.
The Hut has 3 bunks inside, is very small but heaps of character. The overnight fee is minimal.
You can get some great views over the Waimak valley, and the surrounding ridges.
You will come across Lake Lyndon on State Highway 73.
A fishing license must be produced for fishing in the Lake.
Trout and Salmon could be found in the Lake.