Monday morning and the weather was just superb! Following a hearty breakfast we said our fond fairwells to our hosts for the weekend and hit the road.
After being robbed by Shell at the local servo, we headed east, via Stillwater following the railway line towards Otira.
First stop was Moana, on the shores of Lake Brunner.
Moana has always been a magical place for me, and the views are just stunning. Certainly a place I would recommend to visit.
After the short interlude at Moana we carried on east, the road following the railway line almost all the way through Rotomanu and Inchbonnie before it rejoins the main road again at Jacksons which parallels the railway right to Otira, where we stopped for some more piccys.
The banker locos stabled at Otira.
Its a hard life for coal motors on the Midland Line.
With the coal locos shut down, it was very peacefull in the valley, and the remoteness of the location makes itself known. Was wonderful to hear all the native birds and the nearby river though.
Looking west towards Greymouth. The upper tracks are level, while the mainline shows how much gradient is here.
With no signs of any trains for a while we continued our journey, climbing the very steep road to the top of the pass through the rock shelters and across a huge viaduct.
We stopped at the lookout at "Deaths Corner", so named for its deadly history of claiming motorists lives over the years.
We also came across some Keas...
Looking down the valley towards Otira.
Charlie The Cheeky Kea.
Innocent my arse!
You really have to keep your wits about when these cheeky buggers are around! We were there about 10 minutes and in that time two of the little blighters had savaged someones 4 wheel drive, and totally ripped their spare wheel cover to bits!!! I turned around one of them had helped himself to our window rubber!!
Maggie opened the back door of the van to get here jersey and a Kea hopped round the back to have a nosey and was going to get in!!
We were saved by some elderly tourists who started throwing bread everywhere, capturing the Kea's interest more than our cars.
With that we headed east some more.
There was nothing of interest at the village of Arthurs Pass, so we carried on to Springfeild, only stopping briefly for more panoramas of the amazing scenery on offer.
Apparently the prevailing westerly Fone winds over the Pass dump all their water on the west side ( Greymouth to Otira) hence the dense bush and lush vegetation on that side and the dry arid baron hills of the eastern side of the Pass. Its a sight to behold and well worth the visit.
Much of The Lord Of The Rings trilogy was filmed in these parts!.
After a superb drive through the hills we soon found ourselves on the fringes of the Cantabury Plains.
We stopped for lunch at Springfeild, and as soon as we stepped out of the car at a cafe, the air was filled with sounds of multiple DX exhaust barking away and fading fast to the west...... bugger.... another missed coalie. Never to mind.
With some wholesome cafe food in hand we found a nice shady spot in a nearby park to rest and eat lunch. Not much later the very familar sounds of railway wheels squeeling around curved rail broke the peace, followed by the VERY familiar sound of a pair of DC's burbling away.
Abandonding wife and child (again) I shot round to the railway station and found a pair of DC's with a short ballast train in the yard. They then cut off and ran around the train.
Looking west, track machines stabled in the yard.
Sitting in the backshunt.
With time against me, I wnet back to the park and collected Maggie and Hailey, and we headed into Christchurch.
As we still had another 4 hours driving to get back to the farm in Havelock, there was not a lot of time for sight seeing. We had a very sobering drive through downtown Christchurch, and then headed east out to Bexley for a drive past our old house. The damage to both roads and buildings is just unreal, even a year on after the fatal shake that caused most of it. Some streets still had portaloos, and may houses showed the damage sustained.
With all that soaked in, we headed for points north.
It was a quiet drive up the east coast, stopping at Kaikoura for dinner, before reaching our lodgings around 9pm....
A fabulous drive, some fabulous country