At breakfast this morning our B&B hosts invited us to watch the rugby World Cup game between the New Zealand All Blacks and the South Africa Springboks. Alas, after a nail-biting match, the All Blacks lost by one point. We think all of New Zealand is grieving today.
After the devastating loss, we set out from Christchurch on Highway 73 toward Arthur’s Pass, the highest pass over the Southern Alps.
We had to make a quick stop at the World Famous Sheffield’s Pies shop. Meat pie is considered an important part of NZ cuisine, forming part of the NZ national identity. Pies often contain meat and gravy, sometimes mushrooms, onion and cheese and are often consumed as a take-away snack.
Castle Hill / Kura Tawhiti is a field of limestone rocks that are said to look like the ruins of an old castle. The rocks were originally compressed shells that accumulated on the ancient sea floor and were thrust upward by the collision of tectonic plates. Wind, rain and groundwater eroded the rocks into current day boulders.
The façade of the cathedral in Christchurch was built from Castle Hill limestone.
Parts of the Chronicles of Narnia were filmed here. We can only imagine a scouting crew taking photos of the area. There are so many options to choose from.
Cave Stream is a 594 meter tunnel with a tributary of the Broken River running through it. Brave/crazy people do a ‘cave hike’ through the dark space with freezing water up to their waists, then climb a metal rung ladder beside a waterfall and shimmy along a ledge to get out. As much fun as that sounds, we elected to view the cave from entrance and exit only. In the spring, with so much run-off, the spelunking trip could be very dangerous.
From the cave we headed into Arthur’s Pass Village, roughly halfway between Christchurch and the west coast.
We could see Devil’s Punchbowl Falls from the road, but decided to hike closer to the top. 1.2km of stairs up the hill. Not really fun going up or coming back down! But the view at the top was stunning and the spray from the fall was refreshing!
Our home for tonight is the Bealey Hotel at the confluence of the Waimakariri & Bealey Rivers.
Moa are an extinct group of ostrich-like flightless birds formerly endemic to New Zealand and commonly found in this area. They were the largest terrestrial animals in NZ forest and shrubland.
The Moa abruptly went extinct only about 600 years ago, most likely as a result of hunting by humans and changes in their habitats. Legend says the Maori used to ride moa.
Dessert was our first in-country pavlova. Both New Zealand and Australia claim the meringue based dessert originated in their country in the early 20th Century. Named for the Russian ballerina, Anna Pavlova, the dessert was believed to have been created in honour of the dancer during one of her tours to Australia and New Zealand in the 1920’s. Pavlova is an important part of the cuisine of both countries and often served during celebratory or holiday meals.
Tomorrow we continue over Arthur’s Pass and make our way to the west coast.