Venturing further down the West Coast we decided on a detour to Arthur’s Pass, one of the three mountain passes crossing New Zealand’s Southern Alps (yes, someone was really creative with the name here 🙂 ).
The mountain scenery was just breathtaking and we spontaneously stayed the night at a DOC campsite right next to one of these massive scenic rocky riverbeds with ice cold water you find everywhere in New Zealand. Too bad sandflies also seem to love beautiful mountain panoramas and we had to flee into our car for dinner before locking ourselves away into our tent for the night! Brrrrrrr
Apart from nasty sandflies and immigrated Himalayan Bull Tahr and European Chamois (brought over from bored European hunters) the mountains of the Southern Alps are also home to one of the funniest birds of New Zealand: the Kea. These inquisitive and super smart mountain parrots can apparently become quite a pest when they curiously disassemble car fixings or shred whole tents searching for yummy snacks, but they are also the cutest little fellas when they check you out on a car park 🙂
The next morning we did a short hike to Devil’s Punchbowl Waterfall before heading back down Arthur’s Pass to Blackball … world famous for it’s salami and the “formerly Hilton Blackball” which was renamed after a certain global hotel chain got a bit antsy about the name.
The next stop was Hokitika, with a beach covered in driftwood sculptures crafted by the wind and waves or other creative minds:
That night we put our tent up at the Goldfields DOC campground and were greeted by yet another Weka. I have a suspicion that these birds secretly work for the DOC making sure we’re all putting our overnight fees in the honesty boxes! Unfortunately we did not stumble across a huge gold nugget in the riverbed that all these gold diggers had missed in the last 100 years digging up the small river searching for the precious metal.
Luckily places like the magnificent Hokitika gorge have survived the gold rushes and were preserved for future generations in all their splendour: