Sheffield to Moana – 2 passes, 1 viaduct, many villages.

Guess what…? 10k down the road… a very straight road at that… is a the little town of Springfield… and on that road, in that little town, there is a cafe/shop advertising “famous” pies!

“Should we stop?”

“No, they’re probably just the Sheffield pies anyway.”

Onward and upward… we come to our first pass – Porters Pass. [Info spot: Named in 1858 by the Porter brothers who were farming nearby and is, in fact, higher than the more well-known Arthur’s Pass to follow.] This is a popular ski-ing area in the winter and boasts amazing rock formations at Castle Hill so naturally a photo stop and short walk is called for at Cave Stream Reserve.

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Pristine blue skies from Cave Stream Reserve.

The road continues to wind its way through the mountains, along the Bealey River and into the second pass of our travels – Arthur’s Pass [Info spot: Previously called Camping Flat then Bealey Flats. Named after Sir Arthur Dudley Dobson (1841–1934) who traversed it in 1864 with his brother.] Tucked amongst the “vast swathes of beech forest” is the little village, also now called Arthur’s Pass.

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Waterfall at Arthurs Pass is clearly lacking its usual volume of flow.

Here one finds a DOC and visitors’ centre with a museum well worth visiting, several eateries and accommodation options, a railway station and a church, also worth popping into for the view.  Many alpine tracks begin and end within a short distance of the village but we have time only for a short stroll to view a waterfall. Unfortunately and unusually, there has not been much rain preceding our stopover so the water is not falling in spectacular measure but it’s a pretty sight anyway.

Such a beautiful drive winding through the trees but soon we approach the Otira Gorge viaduct. [Info spot: Built to avoid rockfalls. Opened on Saturday 6th November, 1999]. Can’t miss the chance to view this incredible engineering feat from above so sandwiches and hot drinks are extracted from the boot as the photographers shoot away from the lookout.

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The magnificent Otira viaduct.

We take a slight detour to drive around the tiny village of Otira [Info spot:Meaning of the name is ‘place of the travellers’. During construction of the rail tunnel, opened in 1923, Otira housed about 600 workers and their families.] and discuss that on another trip we may even stay in the quirky hotel as it has been recommended and there are certainly a few artefacts to be examined!

Our destination is not too far away as we follow the Taramakau River and turn off at Jacksons to head north. The mainly-holiday-home settlement of Moana lies on the northern shores of Lake Brunner and our overnight destination is a few kilometres beyond that. After checking in we return to Lake Brunner to capture some photos and scenery in the calm of the late afternoon. [Info spot: Lake Brunner was named for the 19th century explorer Thomas Brunner. The Maori name for the lake, Kotuku moana, means “Sea of herons”.] 

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A tossed stone sends ripples in a very calm Lake Brunner
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