We woke up to rain outside our cottage, so we packed up and started our
drive. We needed to get to our reservations in Franz Josef
Glacier that night which is about 7 hour drive by the route we were
planning. The route we had planned was quite scenic and we had
also planned on a few stops along the way to break up the drive, so we
weren't excited to see the rain. As we were pulling on to the
main highway, we saw the bus for the morning whale watching tour and we
were very glad we had gotten to do the tour the day before. I
can't imagine they would have been able to see much in the rain and
clouds. This part of the drive was going to take us fairly close
to Christchurch which had just suffered a devastating earthquake a
couple of weeks before we arrived. We were lucky that we didn't
have any plans to visit Christchurch on the vacation and that the route
stayed far enough away from the city that we didn't see any
damage. It rained pretty much the whole way down the east coast,
but almost as soon as we started inland and headed up into the
mountains, it began to clear up.
Our first stop was Castle Hill. This was something we found in
the NZ Frenzy book and it sounded interesting. It is an area with
a bunch of very large, odd shaped rock formations. The book even
mentions that a scene in the Chronicles of Narnia movie was filmed
there. We got out and began the short walk to the rock
formations. It was a little hard to see how big the formations
were from the start of the walk. There just aren't enough objects
for your eyes to give you the right perspective of their size. I
took quite a few pictures.
Tyler had a great time playing on the boulders
We drove a little more down the road and pulled into a small turnoff
for a picnic lunch. We then headed in to Arthur's Pass and
stopped at the visitor's center. They were doing some work on the
power lines and the whole town was out of power, so the visitor's
center was dark. We had read in the NZ Frenzy book about a
waterfall behind the visitor's center, but were having a problem
finding which trail to take to get there. The person at the
visitor's center got us on the right track and we took the short walk
to the falls. It turned out to be a very pretty falls and we
couldn't figure out why it wasn't marked better. It went pretty
high up the mountain with many different cascades.
Waterfall behind the visitors center
Our next stop was just down the road at Devil's Punchbowl Falls.
Devil's Punchbowl is a very tall (~430 ft) waterfall right outside of
town. You can take a short, but steep with lots of stairs trail,
right up to the base of the falls. My dad's knees were too sore
to make the hike, so the rest of us took the short hike to the base of
the falls and grabbed some pictures.
Devil's Punchbowl Falls
We continued on down the road and got to a nice little turnoff that
allowed us to see the road ahead. It was a pretty neat looking
bridge/viaduct for the road. Overall, this was a very scenic
drive with lots of cool things to stop and do. By now the weather
had cleared and it was pretty much bright sunshine for the rest of the
The road ahead.
We continued on with our drive and stopped in Hokitika. Hokitika
has lots of Jade shops and was in general a pretty large city for this
part of New Zealand. We took some time to walk around and do some
shopping and get some snacks. We then finished off the drive to
Franz Josef Glacier and checked in to our hotel. We had a 3
bedroom place reserved at the Rainforest Retreat.
It was quite a large place, but we were off in our own house away from
the main lodge and it was a great place for our family. It was
$335NZ for the night for all of us which was pretty reasonable for the complete 3 bedroom house.
Continue to Day 10
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