Today was spent visiting another of New Zealands wonderful national parks. The two we have visited so far have minimal development. Most access is by walking/treking. Our visit today took us 14 km up a narrow gravel road. The recommendation is to take the road in during the morning hours and out during the afternoon. There are may places along the road where it would be very difficult if not impossible for two cars to pass. The road is also typical in that is follows the contours of the earth so can be very windy and in placess somewhat steep. It was a pretty drive.
In the area we visited there are two natural arches carved out of limestone by the Oparara River. One of the interesting things about the river is that it looks muddy, but infact the color of the water is from all of the tanon's from the vegitation. It actually is a very beautiful color that runs from redish yellow to deep browns depending on the depth of the water.
The first arch is the Oparara which is 200 meters (approximately 600 feet) long, 49 meters wide, and 37 meters high. The walk took us to a cave that is open at both ends with the river flowing through it.
The second arch is the Moria Gate Arch. It isn't as big, but is everybit as interesting. It was also harder to get to, since we had to drop into the cave over a steep rocky path.
This area is rain forest, so is quite moist. There is moss and lichens everywhere. There are multiple types of tress but the most interesting is the tree ferns. I think I have described them in an earlier entry in this blog.
Then we drove further north to the end of the road, which is as far North as you can drive on the New Zealand South Island West coast. It is also the head end of the Heaphy track, which is a 3 to 5 day trek to Collingwood. Needless to say we didn't take this walk. We did spend a little time walking the beach and Katie put her feet into the waters of the Tasman Sea.
So tomorrow we are off for Franz Joseph and glaciers. We enjoyed our stay here but are anxious to see more of this beautiful country.