This post is for Our World Tuesday
Trip Part 8
The trip from Wanaka through the Haast Pass to the west coast was like nothing else we had seen thus far. First the road gradually traveled up a valley until we were high enough to be in forest country again. This was true rain forest and there were numbers of marked tracks and interesting sights along the road. Each was well sign-posted so if you didn't want to see everything it was easy to pick what you did want to do. We walked into the rain forest down a well-made track. This looked and smelt like the forests we knew when we were children growing up in New Zealand. We loved the moss and ferns on the ground and hanging off everything.
As the road started to descend on the other side of the Pass we came out into a little valley with a stream down the middle. There was a picnic area and camp ground here. In the foreground of this photo is a row of New Zealand Flax plants. This is quite a different plant from the flax of the northern hemisphere but because of its fibrous leaves it was given a similar name.
From here on the road got steeper and more windy. When we toured the south island of New Zealand with our parents all those years ago we remembered that Dad did not want to travel over this pass so we went further north and went over Arthur's Pass. Driving this road this time we did wonder why - but then read one of the tourist notices that said this pass was only officially opened in 1960. It was Christmas of that year that we had been here. I am sure that the road would not have been sealed back then (very little was!) and it must have been pretty hazardous after rain! Even now the only bridges were all one way and there were notices with arrows showing which direction had right of way. All the notices said that heavy traffic had to slow down to 20 km (just over 12mph).
This bridge is at a place called the "Gates of Haast".
Even when we got down to sea level most of the bridges were still one way only. One of the longest ones over a wide shingle river even had a passing place in the middle of the bridge.
More about the west coast next time.