Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Travelling back to the East coast of NZ

We left Carter's Beach early Tuesday with our first destination being the Pancake Rocks at Punakaiki, about fifty minutes south. We missed the height of high tide when these "blowholes" would have been most impressive (and likely even better in a storm) however the layers of rock are fascinating whatever the tide or weather.

Continuing on further south another hour or so to the town of Hokitika...famous for jade carving and sock knitting! Bet you didn't know that! A knitting friend told me about this and so of course I had to check it out... I bought a skein of hand dyed red and green merino/possum blend that they created on ancient carding and spinning machines, unfortunately shut down for the holidays. This is also a museum for sock knitting machines, and they make socks on one of the machines using their hand dyed yarns.

From Hokitika we drove over the impressive Arthur's Pass towards our destination of Christchurch. The highway first winds its way through the Otira Gorge. We were surprised to suddenly drive through what we would call a "snow shed" but in these parts is more likely for rock falls, and then under a waterfall! Fortunately there was a pull out very soon after so we could stop and have a better look...

The pass opens up suddenly into an immense river valley...

...and then passes alongside a huge pile of rocks looking for all the world like a ruined castle, and wouldn't you know, this is called "Castle Hill".

The highway at the eastern end of the Arthur's Pass is along a ridge and side of steep mountains...

And then suddenly opens up onto the vast Canterbury plains. These plains were originally forested but the first humans to settle here about 800 years ago burned them off to hunt the Moa--flightless birds that are now extinct. The Canterbury Museum in Christchurch has an excellent exhibit about this. More about Christchurch in the next post.

No comments:

Post a Comment