I’m heartbroken, so I’m trying to find things that let me calm down and forget about the things racing through my head. I also needed to be reminded of why I came here to New Zealand and why I love it so much. So I escaped to the mountains. I had two days to spend in Arthur’s pass. Just me and my car Frankenstein.
The drive up from Christchurch was absolutely stunning! Driving through the mountains always makes me a bit nervous, but the vistas that I saw through my windscreen immediately made me forget. I passed lakes that sparkled in the sunshine, crossed several one way bridges over rocky riverbeds, and drove deeper into the mountains until I reached tiny Arthur’s pass. The town didn’t have a lot of buildings and the first thing I came across was the visitor center.
At their advice I started with the Dobson nature walk. I was still enchanted by the scenery, but the nature walk itself wasn’t very exciting. It was just a 15 minute stroll up and down the side of a mountain, with the same stroll back to the car park. My second walk was to punchbowl falls. Although you can see the falls from the bottom, it was good to have a closer look and the spray coming from the water was a welcoming refreshment. This walk wasn’t exactly long either, but I struggled to get up the hill. I was starting to rethink my plan for my second day… The rest of the afternoon I just relaxed on the campsite, reading a book in the sun.
The next morning I woke up early, which suited me fine since I had planned a 6 to 8 hour walk. I had read a lot about it and got a little nervous about all the warnings; dangerous in rain or cloudy skies, demanding. It was another bright blue sky full of sunshine, even at 7.30AM though, so I made my way to the start of the track. Directly from the start the demanding part began. It was scramble on hands and feet to ascend to the bushline. The rocks were loose and slipping or twisting an ankle was a real possibility. After 10 minutes I started wondering what I’d gotten myself into.
After one hour and twenty minutes I made it to the bushline. There was no way I was going to go back down this track. I’d had to pull myself up, holding onto roots or sharp rocks. Going down was going to be a challenge. The track continued as a route, which is considered more demanding and meant for experienced trampers. Ahum. So I followed the yellow poles, hoping for some easier terrain, but it just kept climbing. Moreover, the track got very narrow and climbed along a ridge. At times I got so close to the edge that I feared I’d slip and fall off.
The closer I came to the top, the closer I came to chickening out. I was no mountain goat! I couldn’t do this! This is what I told myself after every bit of sharp rock with a small track and a big cliff that I’d crossed, but I would just cross the new obstacle again and again. That’s how I reached Avalanche Peak, a rocky summit at 1833m. The weather was still pristine and the views absolutely amazing. I still wasn’t at ease though. I felt so unstable on all the little loose chips of rock on top of those sharp bigger rocks. Of course you’re never alone either. My phone beeped and a 2degrees message popped up.
After that I took Scotts track back down. It was meant to be easier on the knees, although somewhat longer, but my knees were still caving in. I wasn’t even halfway down when my legs started shaking like straws in the wind. I guess my goal had been achieved. I wanted to get rid of my thoughts, now I was only thinking ‘am I there yet?’. I stumbled over rocks and slid over sand. But it was all worth it. In the end it only took me 5 hours and 15 minutes to get back to my car via the full loop. This is why I came to New Zealand. I love the adventure, the scenery, the personal achievements. Arthur’s pass is much more amazing than I could have imagined. Next time someone asks me if I want to do a demanding walk I might think twice though. O, who am I kidding! I will just curse and swear my way through again. Anyway, tramping turns out to be a good medicine for heartache, but it does leave you shattered.