No Fly Tourism Day
As we feared, we woke up yesterday to the news that we wouldn’t be flying to McMurdo and we wouldn’t be given any training that day. So, we rented two cars and checked out the local area. One group went to Akaroa, a French town by the ocean on the peninsula south of Christchurch. They walked the town and went out on a small ship to see penguins & dolphins. Very cool.
Meanwhile, I went with Bill, John, and Chris up into the mountains. We had excellent weather and great light to experience the awesome landscapes in and around Arthur’s Pass National Park. We went for four short hikes, and the group was very tolerant of my “photographer’s pace”.
On The Way
Chris was a hero, volunteering to drive our group on this trip. Christchurch is super-high difficulty driving right now because of all the earthquake repair construction going on… plus Kiwis drive on the left. The drive was exceedingly beautiful well before we even got to the park entrance. Chris pulled over so I could get out and snap a few pictures:
Waterfall & Views of Avalanche Peak
We drove all the way to the summit of Arthur’s Pass, and then got out to hike the most enticing spots on our way back down. The first stop was a rocky road up to beautiful views of Avalanche Peak and a waterfall on our side of the valley. We were amazed by the scenery and also by the clarity of the air that day. Wow!
The Devil’s Punchbowl Waterfall
Our next stop on the way down was an even more majestic waterfall called The Devil’s Punchbowl.
Just outside the national park, there’s a beautiful limestone cave with a stream running through it. Bill and John are way into caving, so this was a mandatory stop. In a previous year, Bill went all the way through this cave, and there are plans brewing to repeat that trip if we’re held in Christchurch too much longer…
Just downhill of Stream Cave lies Castle Station, named for the beautiful limestone formations that dot the area. The late afternoon light made this an especially wonderful stop.
… so no Ice Flight, but a pretty excellent day nonetheless.
Reporting by Peter Kimball