Arthurs Pass

Cheeky Keas and random stones on the field.



5/28/20236 min read

From Honza's diary:

On our way north through the West coast, we made a detour to Arthur's pass for an interview at the Porters ski resort. After that, the plan was to return and from Hokitika continue north to Abel Tasman, where I have so far been searching for work on the internet. (The positive reaction was only from one orchard, which was in a completely different part of the island near Christchurch. I must have made a mistake in the address.) Of course, everything turned out completely differently and we didn't look at the west coast again before winter. But gradually...

We rushed to the interview at Porters lodge, so we drove through Arthur's pass for the first time only filling up part of the tank with probably the most expensive petrol in NZ ($3.2/L) and kick starting our car over the cables once... The interview went well, although we will end up working elsewhere anyway. But the resort put the bug in our heads that in less than a month at the beginning of May there is an annual big bazaar of winter gear in Christchurch, which we might come in handy.

In the end, we rescheduled everything and decided to stay near Christchurch until then, so the job offer that I wrote to by mistake before came in handy :D In addition, it gave us the opportunity to say goodbye to Ivet and Ondra, who were returning south along the east coast, before the flight. They weren't supposed to be in Christchurch/Akaroa for two days, so we had time to do some hiking in Arthur's pass.

First we climbed Castle hill - a maze of smooth limestone rocks and boulders as if made for bouldering.

rom there we continued to the Cave stream scenic reserve, which I was especially looking forward to! This is an underground river, which you can climb against the current for a bit less than half a kilometer through a narrow underground tunnel. It is recommended to go with at least two people, but unfortunately I didn't made Iwy to go on this adventure, so I took a wetsuit, headlamps, gopro and went into the tunnel alone. Most of the time they wade up to their thighs, sometimes up to their waist. It was absolutely divine and when one went out all one could hear in the darkness was running water. In the end, after the treats, I walked around the waterfall and after about forty minutes it emerged on the other side of the hill. I offered Iwy that I'd give her one more try, that I'd lend her a wetsuit and that the water was usually barely up to her ankles, but she didn't jump at it.

The sun was going down (of course, as always north and right to left), so we quickly devised a hike to the Bealey spur hut, which turned out to be a rather punkish tin shed. And of course we got there in the dark. We climbed a nearby peak in the morning, but unfortunately most of the hills were in the clouds.

After returning to the car, we continued directly to the village of Arthur's pass, where we walked to the beautiful Devils punchbowl falls. Iwy then requested a relaxing afternoon, so we headed to the nearby Arthurs pass lodge from alpine club, to which I coaxed the access code from a friend. But the weather was nice and my feet were itchy, so after lunch I packed my tent and sleeping bag and set off from the lodge along the falls to spend the night at the top of Avalanche peak a thousand meters higher.

I originally planned that, after looking around from the top, I would try to descend the unmarked terrain to the Crow river valley before dusk, spend the night in the Crow hut, and the next day I would be picked up by Iwy and car after a walk along (and undoubtedly through) the river at the end of the valley.

This plan was, of course, unrealistic as always. It was already clear to me halfway through the climb that I would be happy if I could only make it to the top in the light. But not a step back, I have a tent, so I'll sleep somewhere on the top and at least enjoy the sunrise.On a difficult path just before the summit, I met two grandmothers related to chamois. They might have been in their seventies, but they were grinding the rocks down the hills until the dust was behind their heels. Probably a deserving member of the mountaineering section.

They informed me that in the morning they had climbed the side ridge of Mount Bealey (not to be confused with the Bealey spur) and also that I would definitely not find a flat place to sleep on the top. I won't believe it until I see it. So I continued to the top and found a platform a few meters below, where the tent could be stuffed with a little luck. It's just not allowed to blow too much, there was a drop into the valley a meter away. I don't drive the pegs into the rock, but it's enough to move the tent to the rocks. Oh yeah, I shouldn't have forgotten the string..

The tent finally stands, I enjoy the beautiful sunset and brag that there are no kea parrots. About two minutes later, a gang of ten keas come flying down and start attacking my tent. One always lures me from one side and then another sneaks up from the other. After all, I'm not going to let him bite me, so I switch to a counterattack with the help of sticks and then stones. I assume that so far the keas have only bothered me in the morning and in the evening, and they will hide somewhere at night, all I have to do is wait.

I've been sitting in front of the tent for maybe an hour after sunset and waiting. The Keas are also waiting. It's completely dark now. Well, not quite, because it's a full moon. Wouldn't that make them want to sleep? At least I can see them well thanks to the moon. But they probably like me too. So far it's a draw, we're going to overtime. Finally, the nine keas rise and fly away. The tenth doesn't want to yet. I hope they don't take turns on patrol here?! Eventually he disappears too. Victory!! I prefer to wait outside for a few more minutes and when nothing is moving around, I happily crawl into the tent.

As I snuggle up in my sleeping bag, I see the shadow of a kea parrot in the moonlight on the tent tarp, silently stealing towards the tent. Maybe not! I give up, ten zero for parrots! In the presence of this poison, I put the tent in my backpack and crawl into a nearby crevice between the stones in only my sleeping bag so that at least it doesn't blow on me. I wake up all night, and every time I open my eyes, it seems to me that a kea is peeking over me from behind the rock to see if I'm already asleep.

Actually no, I don't think so. When I consider that I could sleep with Iwy in a comfortable cabin with a warm shower.. ahh. I wake up in the morning completely broken and make breakfast at sunrise. The rays begin to illuminate the valley below me, which is completely bathed in clouds like a stormy sea. Absolutely beautiful, I suddenly do not regret that I stayed here until morning. I set up the gopro to take a romantic photo in one.

My old friend Kea, who flies in from somewhere and immediately starts nibbling my backpack and then the mat I'm lying on, has a different opinion. He can't humiliate me anymore. I pack my backpack and flee undignified at his triumphant grunt.

When I see the sea of clouds all over the valley below, I change my plans again. There is no point in going down to the Crow river valley into the clouds. Instead, I'm thinking of trying to go around the arc over Mount Bealey on the ridge, in the opposite direction that the chamois grannies went yesterday. Although there is no road on the maps and the rocks on the ridge look exposed in places, but when they managed it... In the end, crossing the ridge is great. In places I have to go back and go around the rocks from the opposite side, but in the end it is always possible to climb over somehow. In the afternoon, I go down to the valley, where Iwy picks me up and we head straight towards Christchurch, where we have a meeting with Ivet and Ondra in a few hours.

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