The Devils Punchbowl, Arthurs Pass and Avalanche Peak. They all sound terrifying, but actually they’re all lovely.
I know what you’re thinking. Why on earth would the devil need a punch bowl? Surely that’s a bit of a frivolous and light-hearted item for the big red guy to own? I guess even the Lord of Darkness likes to throw a little cocktail party from time to time.
So following our previous debauched night at the Mussel Inn, we decided to cover as much ground as possible the following day, and headed south. There was some stunning scenery on the way, but we really wanted to get down to the west coast so we could make our way up to Arthur’s Pass. We’d had a tip off from a few different people that it was well worth the couple of hours drive inland, with some amazing hikes, great views and one of the best waterfalls in New Zealand. They were right on all accounts.
The devils punchbowl, it turns out, is an icy cold lake at the bottom of a huge waterfall. Rather confusingly, you can’t actually access the lake itself (or so the signs would have you believe) and the official path ends at a viewpoint where you can see the waterfall, but not the bowl itself. We had it on good authority though that if you head through the bush and keep climbing for another 5 minutes or so that you come out at the lake itself, so we pushed on away from the beaten track and were rewarded with a immense view of a towering, staggeringly beautiful waterfall crashing on to the rocks below. Clara and I had neglected to bring any kind of swimming gear, and so we stripped off and went for a truly wild naked swim, much to the amusement of the couple of other tourists luckily enough to be there!
The following day we set off to hike up to the top of Avalanche Peak. Despite its dramatic sounding name, in the summer months its not too dangerous due to the lack of snow, and it has great views over the pass itself, as well as the waterfall, the valley below, and neighbouring peaks. Despite being relatively safe, it was still a testing hike up some fairly steep terrain. I’d definitely recommend it though, it was well worth the effort and the views from the top were fantastic. We also befriended some Kea at the top, a kind of Alpine Parrot that are pretty noisy, and pretty cheeky, eating and stealing anything thats not packed away or tied down!
After a few days inland we were ready to head back to the coast, and we headed for Hokitika, a small town roughly halfway down the west coast. The D.O.C campsite there is just out of town, and right on a beautiful lake, which meant that this morning we could take the kayak out for a spin. After a few days of full on hiking it was good to gives the legs a bit of a rest and do an upper body workout instead!