Wednesday, December 16, 2009

NZ 2009 Day 2 - Arthur's Pass / Glaciers

Gotta say goodbye to Holiday Inn for now. We checked out around 9am to arrive at Arthur's Pass just in time for lunch.
our official hotel check out photo

From Arthur's Pass
Long drive to the Glaciers via The Great Alpine Highway (State Hway 73). The drive from Christchurch to Arthur's Pass Village is around 153kms of plains and snow-capped mountain views. Good thing my trusty pixon was there to provide music while the boys were sleeping.

The kids are usually awake on the first 30minutes of the trip. Then they sleep thru the whole trip. When the car stops, they automatically wake up! Then they are on the go again.

we saw this mountain which had boulders that seem to have sprouted on it.

From Arthur's Pass
After around 2 hours, we finally reached the gateway to Arthur's Pass National Park.  Great place for photo op.
(1) the kids loved throwing stones/pebbles in the water. This was what they did for most of the trip.
(2) & (3) It was really windy (I think I could say this for most parts of our trip). The cold seems unbearable because of the breeze.
(4) & (5) Fantastic view of snow-capped mountains. It seems so unreal. We stayed here for a few minutes to savor the moment while the kids played around.


From Arthur's Pass
Passed by Arthur's Pass Village.This was the first time we saw some Keas. They were in the carpark, waiting for tourists to stop by. They are quite agressive in a way that they would fly up to the car, near the windows, and check if you have food around! By the way, you are not supposed to feed them.

We walked to the visitor center for some maps of short walks around Arthur's Pass Village. There was one starting from the visitor center - Millenium Walk.

Arthur's Pass Visitor Centre
Phone: +64 3 318 9211
Address: SH 73, Arthur's Pass

MILLENIUM WALK - on our way to see the nearby falls. The walk started on flat ground, going over the bridge and walking on the side of the hill. A bit dangerous if one is not careful cause you might slip or slide. But it was no problem for the kids.

From Arthur's Pass
This was the view from a few minutes of walk from the visitor center.

After the short walk, and long drive from Christchurch, we felt exhausted and hungry. Good thing there were eating places near the end of the Millenium Walk track. Hubby had to walk back to the carpark though to get the car, then he picked us up and drove to the nearest eating place.

Brunch at Book Store Cafe near the end of the Millenium Walk.

We had minced meat pie, ham/cheese sandwich, sausage roll and some drinks - all sold at reasonable prices. This was all we could have since they didn't have anything heavier (like rice).

After our brunch, next on the itinerary is a visit to Devil's Punchbowl Falls which was a short drive away.

Devil's Punchbowl waterfalls (1hr return walk).
A combination of walking in rocky roads, hanging bridges, staircases and on the edge of the cliff. Kelvin and Ira had a lot of energy and momentum. They were way ahead of us.

Final steps to the viewing platform. We had to catch our breath when we got there before we could take pictures of the waterfalls. The kids, on the otherhand, were eager to go back down to the carpark!

our junior photographers. 
Actually each of us has his/her assigned "gadget". 
Hubby's is the 500D, mine is the 400D, Kelvin is in charge of the video cam and Ira the Fuji.

From Arthur's Pass
Ira checking out some of his shots.

From Arthur's Pass
stopped by the bridge (on the way back to the carpark)

There was another walk, about 30minutes, to the Bridal Veil falls, but we weren't able to do it as it was already drizzling. We didn't want to get caught in the rain on our drive up to the Glaciers so we started driving to Hokitika at 4pm. We were only halfway to our final destination for the day.

At Hokitika town centre we took some pictures, window shopped, walked around and rested for a while. Most of the shops were already closed (it was past 5 when we got there) so I was not able to do the shopping I planned to do.

Ira loved playing in the phone booths

strolling along the streets of Hokitika

The road to Franz Josef town was a long and winding one. We traversed the side of the mountains. To add to the danger, it was also raining heavily! Better be careful in these roads. Some of the cars and caravans we encountered were driving above speed limit - in the zigzag! I wonder if they were locals or tourists like us.... Maybe local tourists???

We arrived at our accommodation, Franz Josef Top 10 Holiday Park, around 8pm. We stayed in one of their ensuite lodges  for 2 nights. It had a bunk bed and a queen bed, small table and chairs (for dining) and attached bathroom. There's a communal kitchen, dining and tv area just next door. The temperature when we checked in was around 15degrees (inside the room!). Good thing there were heaters and  the beds had heated mattresses. We had a good night sleep and hoped for a better weather in the morning.


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