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.
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.
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.
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”.]