Driving Through the Great Alpine Highway @ New Zealand

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New Zealand West Coast

The beautiful scenic SH73 highway is also known as the Great Alpine Highway.  Throughout the journey, we were surrounded by the southern alps and during our drive, we were just “wow, wow, wow”, all the way.  Driving from Christchurch to Greymouth is 250km.  It will take just about 3.5 hours without stopping.

The Great Alpine Highway NZ
With so many beautiful places to stop along the way, such as Lake Lyndon, Castle Hill, Cave Stream Scenic Reserve, Otira Viaduct , Arthur’s Pass Village and National Park, do plan for a few extra hours for this road.

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Lake Lyndon was the very first stop that we stopped at on the Great Alpine Highway.  There were some tables at the side so you can bring your own food for a picnic and enjoy the view.
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The next stop was Castle Hill.  These limestone outcrops really do look like castles from certain angles.DSC_2247_batch

Doesn’t this rock look like a small frog sitting on a big frog?
Castle Hill on Arthur's Pass Road

The Cave Stream Scenic Reserve is just a few minutes drive from Castle Hill.
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Knowing that there was an opportunity to go caving at the Cave Stream Scenic Reserve, we had our hiking boots, head lights, waterproof gloves ready.  At this point, we didn’t expect to get too wet.

We followed the signs to the cave entrance, going down on descending steps.

When we reached the end of the steps, we saw this!DSC_2278_batch

It looked like a rapid and perhaps a deep river to me and I thought, uh oh, I don’t think we can do the caving this time. We would have to cross the river before getting to the entrance of the cave.  The river didn’t look too safe and we weren’t too prepared to get that wet.  We had to give up on caving and get on with the road, driving into Arthur’s Pass National Park.
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We stopped by the visitor centre at Arthur’s Pass.  Arthur’s pass being the highest pass among the southern helps, the temperature was colder and there was a lot of snow piled up at the road side compared to earlier parts of the journey.  The roads were also wetter and more slippery so watch out when you drive.  You might get a chance to see the alpine bird, the kea, around this area.  They seemed to be pretty “sociable”, hopping around people, doing their own things and not bothered by us humans at all.  You can get close up with them for some nice photos.
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Driving through the Otira Viaduct, and a few other villages was the last part of our journey on Arthur’s Pass Road, before reaching our destination at Greymouth, Alpine Rose Motel.
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More Info on the Great Alpine Highway, SH73
http://www.newzealand.com/int/article/the-great-alpine-highway/
http://www.greatalpinehighway.co.nz/index2.php

More Info on Castle Hill
http://www.castlehill.net.nz/castlehill/cavestream/cavestream.php

More Info on Cave Stream Scenic Reserve
http://www.castlehill.net.nz/castlehill/cavestream/cavestream.php
http://www.newzealand.com/int/article/cave-stream-scenic-reserve/

More Info on Arthur’s Pass National Park
http://www.arthurspass.com/
http://www.newzealand.com/int/article/national-parks-arthurs-pass/


See more photos of the gorgeous Alpine Highway below 🙂
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