Stories from New Zealand #4 – Arthur’s Pass via Lake Pearson

What comes into your mind when you think about New Zealand?

Lord of the Rings? Yes ok fair enough.

Sheep? Yep, that too, they are absolutely everywhere.

Funny ‘acceent’? Yes, that’s pretty cute.

Mountains? Yes! Nature which as you already know is pretty unbelievable here.

I spent a lot of time day dreaming about New Zealand mountains before coming down here. It is when I first drive from Christchurch towards the West coast on my way to Arthur’s Pass that I really experience those jaw dropping kind of landscape.

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Railway linking the west to the east coast

Arthur’s Pass became the first national park of the south island in 1929 but has been a key route a long time before Europeans got there. Maori used to travel west that way in search of the valued pounamu (green stone used for many things such as weapons or jewellery).  In 1864, Europeans discovered gold hidden around there so it suddenly became an emergency to build a road for coaches to cross over (one of those old coach can be seen at the DOC office there). the First European to go through the pass with his brother was called Arthur, thus the name of the village.

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Arthur’s Pass from above

Camping around or just stopping for coffee, you will eventually meet an inquisitive visitor.

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kea, a native parrot

Keas are one the ten endemic parrot species in the south island and are not to be found anywhere else in the world. They are considered very smart and their curiosity will encourage them to approach people which ironically represent a threat. What do people do when an animal comes to them? They look for things to feed then, which is pretty much the worst you could do. As a matter of fact, baby keas are taught to look for food by older experienced keas. Obviously that is very important for them to know where and how to find food in their rough alpine home otherwise they will die.

Their sometimes intrusive behaviors have led to a certain unpopularity as people happened to get their keys stolen, unattended backpack or tent inspected or even their car a tiny bit  damaged. Nothing ever happened to me except for a tent lightly shaken one morning. I like knowing they are around and listening to their peculiar sound while hiking.

There are numerous day trips directly from the village and even more in the area. There are also a few really nice DOC campsites (standard and basic). My favorite was about half an hour from Arthur’s pass, a free campsite on lake Pearson, gorgeous little spot.

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Admiring the scenery and enjoying the hot weather

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Lake Pearson on a fine day

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A rather fine campsite!

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Reflection on lake Pearson

Here are a few photos of my favorite day hikes before a longer story about the one that should not be missed.

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Hut at the end of the Temple Basin track

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Amazing views over Mount Rolleston (2275m) from the hut

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Beautiful Devils punchbowl 131m high waterfall

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Stories from New Zealand #3 – The best of North of the South island

Here is a list of my 5 favorite things I got to experience in the north of the south island…Kahurangi national park is not part of it as I didn’t get to explore but will do, one day!

1 -Wander around the Marlborough Sound

If you are crossing over by boat from Wellington, chances are you will arrive at Picton. From there, you can drive to Havelock (the capital of the green lip mussel!) via the beautiful Queen Charlotte drive. Then you can follow the road up to Okiwi Bay and the French Pass.

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Okiwi Bay

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Geraldine on the pier at Elaine bay

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Beautiful jellyfishes around

And look who showed up swimming around…

2 – Walk or kayak in Abel Tasman park

Ok ok, everybody knows that but it is truly beautiful, even though yes, I can’t lie, it was heavily raining pretty much all day when I was there with my dear friend Geraldine. Also it’s one of the cheapest spot in the country to hire kayaks and probably one of the most beautiful as well. Even under pouring rain, you could see the bottom of the water that was crystal clear.

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Hello look at us having fun

3 – Go spend hours observing the life of a seal colony at Ohau Point, Kaikoura

Kaikoura is a little town between Picton and Christchurch. It doesn’t really have much but a nice 2 hours walk around the Peninsula…

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Kaikoura peninsula walk

…BUT! if you drive about 15 minutes north, there is a place you should absolutely not miss. It is called Ohau Point and it truly amazing because this is what you get to see:

Check out those baby seals!

4 – Get inspired by fascinating Christchurch

You will be surprised by the biggest city of the south island. First because even years after the bad earthquakes, it is still being rebuilt. Second because it feels like a real effort has been made to distract people from the damages by being overly creative with street art at each corner.

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Wizard walking around

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Trompe l’oeil

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Keeping what is still standing

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Cute fences

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Remains of the cathedral

5 – Do visit the old French settlement of Akaroa

Not because it’s fun to read French everywhere but because it’s a pretty cool drive over the hills and the Peninsula has a very special atmosphere.

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Random street in Akaroa

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Onuku farm, a pretty amazing cosy place to stay. High on a hill, you can stay in a room, camp or even better stay in those little huts called stargazers.

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And what do you do in a stargazer…

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A Sheep in a very kiwi kind of weather

That is all for today, any more tips? Leave a comment!

enough!

Couldn’t resist not putting that one on 🙂