Arthur's Pass

To get back to Christchurch from the west coast, I took Arthur's Pass.

On the way to the pass, however, Google sent me down Old Christchurch Road. Whilst I liked the sound of the "Christchurch" part, the "Old" part sounded ominous. It started off as a tarmac track, but one too narrow for road markings. It eventually became a winding gravel track. Perhaps Google didn't know it was gravel, because I am sure the main road would have been quicker. Luckily I didn't encounter another car on the entire length of the road.

Back on the main road, my first stop was at the Otira Viaduct Lookout. The main road runs over the viaduct, and the lookout provides views of it.

Otira Viaduct

My main reason for visiting, however, is that it is also a place where kea are often seen.

There was one in the car park when I arrived, though it seemed quite camera shy, and soon vanished into the undergrowth.

As I was leaving the car park, I saw it in my rear view mirror and so parked up again. The kea was under a camper van, and was happily ripping bits off the underside of the vehicle.

Eventually it ran out across the car park and settled in a patch of grass where it allowed itself to be photographed. I think it enjoyed that attention really.

Kea running

I then traveled on to the Arthur's Pass village, from which I walked to the Devils Punchbowl Waterfall.

Devils Punchbowl

Heading back into the village, I found that the village cafe was a hive of kea activity. A whole circus (that is the correct, and rather apt, collective noun) of kea were up to no good.

Kea are the world's only alpine parrots. They are intelligent and inquisitive. Allegedly they have the intelligence equivalent to that of a five year old human, and have been known to solve reasonably complex problems, to work as a group, and even to craft and use tools. Their main hobbies, however, seem to be stealing food, and ripping pieces off cars.

Car with added kea

They are very bold, and seem to have no fear of humans at all. I witnessed one jump on to a table with people sat at, grab food off a plate, and eat it at the table. Even a seagull would have fled after stealing food, but the kea just don't seem to care.

Kea with food

I eventually dragged myself away from the kea, and continued through the pass. On the other side I stopped of at Castle Hill. The hill is littered with limestone boulders. Small pathways wind their way between the boulders, some of which are very steep.

Castle Hill

After finding a sufficiently shallow decent from the boulders, I continued on to Christchurch.

This completed my circuit of the south island. Tomorrow I fly back to the UK, once again via Singapore.