Crawling Arthur’s Pass

As the sun pushed its way through the heavy grey cloud, we were eastbound traveling into Arthur’s Pass from Greymouth. It’s a rather scenic route, with hills transforming into mountains steeper than any I’ve seen to date in NZ. 

The hills seemed to reach up to touch the sky, with dense bush breaking clear at the gravelly scree tops. “There’s deer in there”, hubby noted a few times along the way, also mentioning that I should look out for them as we drive... I’m not that sharp-eyed yet! 

Before you know it, we are on a one way lane, skirting along the edge of the mountainside road, under protective rockfall platforms. 

As we motor along, hubby confident that the “towing not recommended” signs don’t need to apply to us, we start an incline. Thankfully there’s not too much traffic behind us at this stage. 

We drop down a gear, then quickly into another. The sun is beating down through the windscreen, baking us as we climb. Oh, that sign said 16% incline...

Needless to say we slowly lose speed. As hubby throws the Ute into another low gear, I notice it’s first gear. “Um, we’ll be ok aye? That hill keeps going up...” as he puts his foot down and revs the engine a little more, we gain just enough to move on. The Ute by now is chugging - I’ve seen it put thorough its paces before, but this is laboring a bit too much! 

“So babe, what happens if we lose speed and stop?” I ask genuinely interested while my palms were  starting to get sweaty. “It’ll be a hill start like no other... ” he replied

The hills though- now that is a breathtaking view, mountains that seem so high to touch the sky, a huge expanse morphing from one mountain into the next as we drive through the ranges. With 28C temperatures outside, the clear blue sky just made the view picture perfect. 

As the heat temperature gauge touched the red line, a lookout rest stop came into view about 200m up the hill. All we had to do was get there and carry on. The Ute was at 3000 revs, the temp was rising and the only thing going down was the speed. At 10km/hr and dropping, we crawled into the rest stop. We were safe! 

Holy mackerel we didn’t want to think what the option would be if we lost power.... 

As we ate some choc chip cookies, with a hot engine fragrance, the Ute cooled down enough for us to tackle one last hill- not nearly as steep but still slow going! Eventually we made it to the other side, where a downhill reprieve was most welcomed!

Let’s just say, while Arthur’s Pass is definitely the scenic route, we probably won’t tow a 20ft caravan through it !