We left our campsite at Lake Ianthe at around 8am. Those stupid sandflies bit me several more times during the night, so I didn’t sleep so well. It brought me great solace to see several dead sandflies stuck in the condensation on the inside of our windshield the next morning. Kinda gross, I know, but it made me happy! I guess Becky didn’t get much sleep the night before either. She pulled out into the wrong lane of traffic…but no one was on the road that early in the morning in the middle of nowhere anyway! (Also note that Becky had to correct me several times too when I drove…ESPECIALLY on the roundabouts! LOL!)
So off we went to travel down Arthur’s Pass
. The word “WOW” is an understatement. The mountains, the terrain, the scenery were just amazing! We stopped several times on the way.
In the above picture, Becky is on a bridge that takes you to Deception Valley. Maximum load ofthis bridge? That would be FIVE people. FIVE!!! No joke! The water flowing underneath it was such a pretty blue. This was only the beginning of the neat things we were to see/experience today. We continued down the road and the mountains got bigger and bigger. The roadway was amazing. We had to dodge rocks that were already in the road from a rockslide. We drove through a rockslide shelter that was built over the road. We also drove under a waterfall too! This was all on the Otira Gorge Road/State Highway 73.
When I was taking a video, I was paid a visit by a few Kea
parrots. These are a large, rare alpine parrot that live only in the South Island of New Zealand. They were fascinating! Me, being the inquisitive gal that I am, extended my hand out to one of them, as they seemed very tame. I was hoping he would hop up onto my hand or arm, but nooo. Dude BIT
me! Silly parrot! You can see the one who assaulted me with the purple and yellow bands on his leg. He’s lucky that I like birds!
Just a short way down the road, we turned left at Death’s Corner and got a fabulous view of the Otira Viaduct that we just drove over. This was built in order to create the least amount of impact on the area. I like that.
A little way further down the road, Becky and I parked the van in the Temple Basin carpark, with the intent of taking a short nature hike trail to see the flora and fauna. It was really cold, so we geared up with jackets, hats and mittens. As we headed out to the trail, we suddenly changed our minds and decided to ascend the mountain instead. It was a steep path, full of rocks that zig-zagged up the mountain. I’m not sure what possessed us to climb, but climb we did, and for quite a ways! It was really windy, and exciting to see the views as we got higher and higher. For me, it was totally exhilarating. I was completely jazzed! We got to a spot where there was a little bench that someone built. It had a great view of a waterfall (see movie below). Here’s me doing a “Captain Morgan’s” stance on said bench…
Near the bench, I found a really neat thing. It was
small rocks that were placed carefully in the shape of a heart. There was some kind of message inside the heart, but I think it was in another language. We couldn’t figure out what it said! It was neat to see nonetheless. It must have been for Valentine’s Day!
We continued climbing from here. I really wanted to make it to the top, but we weren’t really prepared for that. We didn’t even bring any water with us! Stupid, I know, but our decision to climb was a quick one. I don’t think either of us thought we would go this high!
As we continued our ascent, Becky (smartly) decided to take a break. While she did so, I literally sprinted up the trail a good big further. I was breathing hard, but I wanted to go up up up! I have funny video that makes me sound like some kind of perverted crank caller. I’ll refrain from posting that, but will show you a pic I took of myself from the highest point that I hiked to (right). I scrambled back down and hooked back up with Becky so we could make the rest of the descent together. What an amazing experience it was to go conquer that mountain together…on a whim, no less! It was one of my favorite parts of the trip. Once back at the van, we got hydrated again and then made our way to Arthur’s Pass. We were starving after our climb. Time for some grub…. and more run-ins with those rascally parrots! More to come in Part Deux…