How we once again make our way out of Christchurch, this time in the direction of Castle Hill and Arthurs Pass, where we tick off quite a few things from our bucket list. So yeah, this is one of those posts filled with climbing, hiking and the likes again (sorry!). Here we go!
From Christchurch we drove inland towards Castle Hill. Since the weather wasn’t great, we decided to start with visiting Cave Stream, which is.. well, a stream through a cave. Here you can wade 594 meter through knee- to waist-deep water while being underground the whole time. It was pretty cool, but to be honest, I wasn’t fully enjoying it at the time as this was slightly out of my comfort zone, give me rock climbing over caving anyday!
In the afternoon the weather had cleared enough to head to Castle’s Hill main attraction: the boulder fields. The next day and a half were spent bouldering, getting used to a very different kind of rock, walking around trying to make sense of the topo maps versus the actual boulders, making some friends and damaging both of our sunglasses in a 30 minute timeframe. The nights were spent on the only free campsite in this area, a bit of a drive to get to but with a beautiful view into the valley, surrounded by mountains with snow dusting the tops.
After a few days of bouldering, it was time for what we call “active recovery”, meaning a full-on day of any other kind of activity, but no climbing/bouldering. For this particular day, we had planned to hike up Avalanche Peak, followed by a traverse to Lyell Peak and Mt Bealey before descending down into Arthurs Pass village again.
We were pretty surprised to see quite a bit of snow when we got close to the first summit, which made us doubt our plans for the long, off-track route. We decided to continue a bit further and reassess whether it would be doable. From the top of Lyell Peak, we could see that we wouldn’t have to deal too much with snow on the rest of the route, which was good as the ridge turned into a 20 cm wide rock scramble with big drops on either side!
We made sure to take our time, focus on our steps and slowly made our way to Mt Bealey, where we celebrated by having a cup of tea. What an amazing hike and how cool to be up in this environment for a whole day in the most stunning weather! After a gruelling descent we got back to the van and drove back to the free camp site further up the road. We managed to sneak in a final day of bouldering at Castle Hill (seeing that we were passing through anyway) before we made our way back as we had some people to visit near Darfield.
In the past two weeks, we had thought about doing some more WWOOFing, but we were having our doubts since most WWOOF hosts will ask for at least 4 hours of work per day. This might not be a bad deal, depending on the type of food and accommodation you get in return, but in our experience it does mean that there’s not much time left to do all sorts of activities, especially now that the days are getting shorter and shorter. Which is why we had decided to start looking into house and pet sitting! We figured that this would give us a similar break from vanlife as WWOOFing, as it provides us with a base to do some exploring as well as a chance to have a bit more space, a shower and the opportunity to do laundry. But since no work would be involved (apart from perhaps dog walking etc), we would be left with more time to ourselves to do as we please.
So we signed up to the website, kept a close eye on any house sitting jobs coming up, and responded to one in the area of Darfield. The owners invited us over for a drink to meet us and to see whether their two dogs would like our company, well did they ever! They were pretty much all over us as soon as we walked in, so it didn’t take long for the owners to confirm that they were happy for us to watch their two cuties while staying in their house for the 2,5 weeks that they would be on holiday.
We had another week and a half till the house sit would start, so we decided to check out a new area instead of spending all this time in Canterbury. Our first plan was to visit Mount Cook, but by the time we had made our way down there, the weather was horrible and we wouldn’t really be able to do any of the things we wanted to do (yep, you guessed it, climbing and hiking and cycling). So since we had driven all that way already anyway and since it wasn’t too much further to Wanaka and since we knew people in Wanaka that we were keen to see again and since Thomas his new rainjacket had arrived in Wanaka, we figured we might as well head for.. Wanaka!