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.

Castle Hill

Tyler had a great time playing on the boulders

Boulders Galore

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 day.

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.
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