On leaving Arthur's Pass State Highway 73 runs through Otira Gorge over the Otira Viaduct. After climbing down from the mountains you have a choice.
Follow SH 73 along the Taramakau River to Kamara Junction and the intersection with SH 6 along the West coast.
Take the turn to the right into Lake Brunner Road which takes you past picturesque Lake Poerua to Lake Brunner stopping at the towhship of Moana at the bottom of the lake. There are fantastic lake views to be had. Moana is one of the stops on the TranzAlpine railway and the Stationhouse Cafe has great reviews. Leave Moana travelling along the Arnold River until joining SH 7 to Greymouth.
After leaving Arhtur's Pass township traveling west there is a lookout on the left. From here you can get a great view of the Otira Gorge and the new viaduct. What an amazing piece of engineering. It takes much time off the journey for big trucks and is much safer.
The lookout is also a favourite haunt of the cheeky mountain parrot - the Kea. He likes eating the black rubber strips around doors and windows of cars and is quite happy to do this while your back is turned and admiring the view.
There are also other little black and white birds with a yellow breast.
State Highway 73 goes from Christchurch over Arthur's Pass to Kumara Junction where it meets State Highway 6 along the West Coast. It follows the Waimakariri River for a stage then continues west as the river comes from the north-west. Passing Castle Hill and Lake Pearson it again joins the Waimakariri Valley before crossing it to reach Arthur's Pass.
The Via Duct was very difficult to construct. It took many years for this project to be completed by the labourers. It was a 440 m structure built to replace a winding portion of road that ran under a major rockfall hazard.
We read about its history and some pics and articles of the construction at the Arthur's Pass Visitor Centre.
Look out for it after you drive out of town and take a good pic of it.
You will see a small waterfall if it rain ;p
The second day excitement was getting to us. You cannot imagine the estasy of seeing and feeling anything remote or anything that we do not see in Singapore such as moutains, nice lakes, even..erm..passes or bridges. The feeling was just so heavenly.
My wife and I had just pass the one lane bridge and we were so glad to have made it this far. Mind you, it was early days and just two hours into our drive. There're many more mind-blowing sceneries ahead but we just soaked in everything that New Zealand has to offer.
The Viaduct lookout point is up a short, steep off-shoot from the main road. This used to be the main road, and it continued through the gorge, just about clinging to the side of the mountain. A scarey road by many accounts - the corner up to the lookout is known as Deaths Corner
The lookout lets you see the relatively recent Otira Viaduct, an impressive piece of road building, with the river winding through the gorge as well. The gorge was originally used by Maori to get to the wild West Coast, where there is much Pounamou, or greenstone, sacred to Maori even today. In 1864 Arthur Dobson rediscovered the track - it turns out the West Coast had a fair amount of gold as well as greenstone, and a good track through from West coast to East was essential.
This is also one of the best places in New Zealand to get your nice shiny hire car eaten by parrots - next tip...
Do look out for the sign to confirm that the highway is open.
This is especially so during winter when the road will be closed.
State Highway 73 will pass by Springfield, Arthur's Pass, Otira and Kumara.
To get to the West Coast from Christchurch, we took State Highway 73 which passes over Arthur’s Pass.
Along the way you will see lots of beautiful sceneries. There are mountains, fields full of sheeps and some cows.
We were amazed by the snow cap mountains. We dont see mountains and snow in Singapore only hills.