Well worth the stop and just a short ways out of Westport are the iconic pancake rocks. We don’t typically stop of traditional tourist stops where you just look at a pretty view but I will I am glad we made the exception for Pancake Rocks. We were graced with a beautiful sunny day, but a rowdy sea that made for an exciting experience watching the many blowholes in the area. An easy stroll through the snaking paths gifts you with many different and unique lookouts, all of which are very photogenic, so of course we took a few.
Encounter with a wild kea
Arthur’s Pass is one of those stretches of roads we will have to visit a few times to get the whole experience, but from our short time on this highway we had some incredible moments. Being greeted by our first wild Kea, set this section of our trip off on the right foot.
Skies were grey and moody, but it set the perfect backdrop to spot the vibrant orange underside swooping silently over the valley. We had the highway to ourself so we pulled over so I could try and snap a few photos of the beautiful bird. The cheeky boi must have been used to being fed by travelers which is a big no-no, because as soon as he saw us he few down to the highway and started running – yes running- towards Oli excitedly.
Quickly realizing we weren’t going to give him any snacks, he turned his energy towards exploring our rooftop tent with his beak. Oli had spent quite a bit of time volunteering at the Queenstown Bird Life park, and quickly chastised the naughty boy with a stern NO. He perked his head up at us, as if saying my favorite line, “Don’t tell me what to do,” and went back to the pecking at things he shouldn’t be pecking at. After being told no enough, he decided we weren’t worth the trouble and took off down the valley. The whole encounter lasted maybe 15 minutes, but I got some great footage.
Devil’s Punchbowl Hike
After saying goodbye to the wild kea we kept heading east, with a quick stop off at Devil’s Punchbowl. An easy up leads to a beautiful waterfall and a punchbowl and the only thing I have to ask is, Did you even go to a waterfall if you didn’t stand directly underneath?
Cave Stream Hike
Cave stream hike is one of my absolute favorite hikes in NZ, still to this day, months after hiking it. You hike up stream in the pitch black through a single cave system that meanders 594 m from one entrance to the other. Water has worn away at the walls, and you have to clamber up a few waterfalls in the cave. A headlamp is necessary and a wetsuit is recommended.