Monday, July 9, 2012

South island - part 3

I'd never been through Arthur's pass before. It's a pretty amazing drive! Getting to the highest point involves driving over a very high bridge, the bridge having been built over what's left of the road that used to be in use and that has now land-slided away. We stopped at the view point, it was even more impressive. Some very friendly and inquisitive Kaka (an indigenous type of parrot) were hanging out and picking up food scraps. These birds are known to be worse than magpies! I've heard stories of people whose boots left outside overnight ended up destroyed by their powerful beaks (when you're hungry you're hungry).

We then stopped at lake Pearson for the night. It's pretty quiet (and cold) at this time of the year, but what a sight. We woke up to a frosty orange day, the sun shone on the lake and the ducks swam around, the kids had a walk and played with frosty bits of grass. This lake is supposed to be a good bird watching place, but at this time of the year most birds have migrated.
Lake Pearson at sunrise

frosty grass and snowy mountain top!
We stopped at another awesome place on our way, called Castle Hill. Seen from a distance, it looks like a giant lost the marbles he was carrying in his pockets. A whole lot of dark grey round boulders scattered over the landscape, some as high as a child while others reached several stories high. It's a place of great significance for maori as well as the most famous bouldering spot in New Zealand. Unfortunately I wasn't so trigger happy there so I can't find any good pics...
Once we reached Christchurch we decided to keep going until we reached Akaroa, a little town situated at the end of Bank's Peninsula, famous for being the only french settlement in New Zealand. It is very cute and reminded me of some little seaside village in France. We stayed a couple of nights and relaxed during the day. This was our last stop before heading back to Wellington and the kids definitely deserved a break from driving!
We spent a great afternoon at a place called "the Giant's Garden". The owner is a local artist (and horticulturist) whose past 11 years have been spent creating amazingly stunning mosaics in her garden. We couldn't stop marveling at every step and I took so many photos this garden alone will have to be the subject of the next post...

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