the road taken :: south island haerenga vol. 2


sunday – with embers still warm from the night before, i stoke up a fire to heat the hot tub again, while Nic puts the kettle on to make more coffee. it feels luxurious to be sitting in a hot tub in the early morning light drinking coffee and i revel in it as much as possible before we head off on the day’s adventures.

Kombucha in glasses on a wooden board (c) Leonie Wise 4 eggs and 2 empty egg shells in a black egg container on a wooden bench (c) Leonie Wise

we have supplies to make a hearty breakfast today, so we make the most of it before we pile into the car. call me a hopeless romantic, but there’s something special about cooking semi-outdoors with a well-used toaster and cast iron frypan that simply can’t be beaten by eating the exact same breakfast at home.


today we follow the coastline north to cape foulwind, then head inland to check out a ghost town before going back to arthur’s pass to do some short walks we didn’t get time for on the way over. it’s a stunning blue sky day with yesterday’s rain leaving as quickly as it came. there’s a local summer market just up the road at fox river and we stop for a look around. i end up buying some more pottery cups to add to my collection from makers around the world, then it’s onwards to the cape. the roads are narrow and windy around here, but there’s not a lot of traffic on the road so i take advantage of it by hanging the camera out the window a lot. if we stopped every time i wanted to make a photograph we’d never get anywhere!


despite the cape’s name, it is gorgeous when we get there, with amazing views in every direction. we do a short portion of the coastal walk, then jump back into the car and head to waiuta – a west coast ghost town. this was once a busy mining settlement, producing nearly 750,000 ounces of gold from 1.5 million tons of quartz. in 1951 the blackwater shaft collapsed, blocking the ventilation system, which turned out to be uneconomical to repair. so the mine closed leaving everyone unemployed and with no choice but to abandon the town. there’s a bunch of people that do volunteer work to keep the place tidy and promote it as a place to visit. well worth the diversion up a little single lane road! i’m a sucker for an abandoned building of any kind and the houses down there provided loads of good opportunities for exploration. i would have loved to spend more time there poking around, but we want to get back over to arthur’s pass, so off we go.


the sky gets darker and more ominous the closer we get to the pass, and by the time we get there visibility is pretty low. it feels somehow appropriate though so we bundle up in our warm and waterproof gear and make our first stop at the chapel of the snows – a tiny chapel in the village that has a view of the avalanche creek waterfall through the windows at the front of the chapel. it feels wonderfully serene in there with a view of the waterfall cascading down the hill through the windows above the pulpit.


Wet kea at Arthur's Pass New Zealand (c) Leonie Wise

back in the car we head for the devil’s punchbowl and climb what feels like a billion stairs to get up to the waterfall. i say wow, a lot. and thank nic for coming with me, even though it’s very wet and he’s not (usually) a frolicking in the rain kinda guy. i love him even more for coming with me! we drive back to woodpecker hut in the fading light, marvelling at the pink sunset that appears through a gap in the hills. i stoke up the hot tub again and we have a quick soak before bed, marvelling at our day and already lamenting having to leave this marvellous place tomorrow.


:: the road taken – south island haerenga vol. 1

  1. haerenga (maōri)
    (noun) journey, trip, parting
  2. woodpecker hut so named for the bay that’s below us. there’s no actual woodpeckers in new zealand

One thought on “the road taken :: south island haerenga vol. 2

  • Beautiful photographs Leonie and what a lovely journey. My ancestors were gold miners in Queensland and I’d love to visit the towns they once inhabited, especially the ones which are now desolate!

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