Sort of Sunny on the West Coast (Part One) – Paratu Stream Camp

“On a Mish” #235 Sort of Sunny on the West Coast (Part One). Paratu Stream. Arthurs Pass National Park. 28.12.2020. After my first proper Christmas with the whanau in 12 years I needed a good hike to burn off multiple Christmas feasts. Being the holiday season, I would rather be working (time and a half!), but Christmas with the family is an excellent upside to a year (2020) which hasn’t given us many reasons to celebrate. As nice as my family is, I need some away time every now and then, and with the sun being the only thing above that part of the country for the next couple of days…

The excitement began before starting my hike with ‘interesting’ holiday traffic all over the highway to Arthurs Pass. You can really understand why we have such terrible road tolls when you see a farm truck with a trailer passing a SUV towing a boat as well as another car on a blind corner. I think some people don’t enjoy living!

After so many missions on the Milford Road I have got used to insane drivers and their crazy antics, and it’s best to just let them pass. After driving through a very busy Arthurs Pass Village (post-Covid boom), I began the climb over the alpine pass, and then the descent into the stunning Otira Valley. The western side of the pass is a jaw dropping feat of engineering. Where the Otira River flows through a deep gorge, the road spans over the drop on a magnificent viaduct. This is a replacement to the old zig-zags at the ominously named ‘Deaths Corner’.

It had been a while since my last trip to the West Coast, and with the sun shining down on the mountains its beauty is hard to beat. My injured hip meant minimal weight with each load I would transport to my campsite. So, I was still using my two-bag system to distribute the weight of my camping gear. Tackling the wilderness like this has been the only way I could get back into the outdoors, and I’m glad I worked it out.

I set off from the busy little roadside car park, and immediately crossed over the Otira River on the Morrison Footbridge. From the bridge the views were spectacular up and down the valley, even with the assortment of signs of mankind in the form of power pylons and railroad tracks. The bridge is where the ‘Coast to Coast’ (famous mountain race) joins the Deception River Track which climbs up and over Goat Pass(1070m).

I wasn’t here to run a race. I was here to make the most of the sunshine while it lasted. You really can’t beat the West Coast on a (sort of) sunny day…

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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