Round The World and other travels

A frequent flyer's collection of trip diaries

This is: Round The World 2004

Arthur's Pass Tour, by car

As Summer Time ended in New Zealand in the small hours of this morning, I had an extra hour in bed   Maybe it made all the difference, because I knew the moment I awoke that the slightly off-colour feeling I had experienced the previous evening had completely gone. I was feeling quite peckish and looking forward to breakfast. For a change, I sampled some of the choices available under the hotel's 'continental' option. After giving the car a rest the previous day, I was ready for what could easily turn out to be the longest day's driving on the trip.

I set out at 0930, the streets fairly quiet on this Sunday morning. It was shaping up to be another glorious day. I stopped at the first opportunity to fill up with fuel, noting as I did so that I had filled up the car from near-empty for the equivalent of about ten pounds. I was soon out of Christchurch and crossing the Canterbury Plains, with the Southern Alps clearly visible before me. As I got closer to the mountains, it began to look as though the glorious weather might not apply everywhere and I wondered if I had been careless not to put some additional clothing in the car. Once past Springfield, the character of the road changed completely, in line with the new type of landscape being traversed. It was an excellent drive, full of hairpin bends, scenic lookouts and single-track bridges, including one example of the latter that was also shared by trains!

I followed Route 73 all the way to the West Coast, through deteriorating weather, turning right at Kumara Junction and driving up the coast to Greymouth for a light lunch of tuna salad. I then followed Route 7 as far as Stillwater, taking the Lake Brunner road to join up again with the main Arthur's Pass road. By the time I had re-joined Route 73, the rain had become absolutely torrential, to the extent that it was impeding progress quite considerably. Once through the mountains, though, it disappeared completely! I was left with the feeling that areas east of the mountains had been dry all day. I needed to fill up with fuel again in Springfield and then had a trouble-free run back to the city.

With all this driving, I managed to listen to no fewer than eight of the nine Beethoven symphonies!! I had bought the new boxed set of Vienna Philharmonic / Simon Rattle recordings as a little Christmas present for myself and this had been the first chance I'd had to play them. Now I just need to find an appropriate slot for the great 9th

Following some previous negative comments, the driving experience today was excellent, apart from a couple of examples of people driving in designated cycle lanes in the city itself   This was in line with my positive experiences in Fiordland and - assuming that the journey to the airport tomorrow is a reasonably easy one - it was a good note to end on

It was a long day's driving, so was it worth it? Absolutely! A shame about some of the weather conditions, but apart from that, a great day out

Sunday 21 Mar

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