An hour west of Christchurch the unique outcrop of limestone boulders known as Castle Hill made for the perfect pit-stop on our way to Arthur’s Pass National Park. Castle Hill is a rock-climbers dream and usually just a quick photo-op for most tourists, so us, being somewhere in between, spent a few hours amongst the bizarre towering shapes (ranging from 3 to 164 feet in height) hiking and bouldering under the hot afternoon sun – it was awesome!
Continuing on, we found ourselves in Arthur’s Pass National Park. This alpine region of NZ is known for hiking and also for the picturesque route it provides travelers going from coast to coast. Not wanting to get to the west coast just yet, our destination in the park was Arthur’s Pass Village (2,395 feet above sea level).
After a restful night at the Klondyke Camp, we set out on one of our most challenging hikes to date: Avalanche Peak Loop Tramp. The elevation gain, 1,100 meters (3,608 feet) was the challenge in this 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) hike and once we started it was three hours of climbing straight up the mountain! There was not one flat spot on the entire trek; however, there were views of waterfalls cascading down neighboring mountains, endless misty mountain tops, and even glaciers hanging out in between alpine peaks.
When we finally reached the summit, the 360-degree view was something to spike anyone’s WOLOmeter and the keas (giant alpine parrots native to NZ’s South Island) were an added bonus! We shared the view, the 5ftX10ft cliff edge, and some lunch with roughly ten other adventurers (some from Israel, some from Germany, some from Britain, an a fellow Canadian) before making our way back down the opposite ridge line – less energy used going down, but just as steep!
We topped off our visit to Arthur’s Pass the following morning with a much shorter and much easier tramp to the base of the Devil’s Punchbowl Falls – a 131 meters (430 feet) of cascading beautifulness! And finally, a quick lunch break in Sheffield, NZ at the famous Sheffield’s Pie Shop where we ordered a traditional chicken pie, a pork and apple pie, and a NY peppered steak pie (for the NY native); they were mouthwatering delicious and if you ever find yourself on your way to or coming back from Arthur’s Pass NP this is a kiwi must-do. Who cares if buttery, creamy stew-filled pies are less than nutritious – WOLO and try all of the flavors!
Next stop: Lake Tekapo
Song lyrics: Sara Bareilles “Many the Miles”
– Go. Change your state of mind.