Who was Arthur? And why did he pass?
|The Alps from the Canterbury Plain|
|The old stage-coach road along the gravel river bed.|
|It takes two locos at the front and three at the rear to get over the pass|
There are bridges and deep gorges.
and wide river crossings across braided rivers and banks of gravel that are apparently about a thousand feet deep, left behind by the glaciers.
Arthur's Pass station is over 700 metres above sea level. It was the base for the workmen building the tunnel that takes the train under the mountain to the other side. Arthur's Pass was named for Sir Arthur Dudley Dobson who was the intrepid surveyor who found the track (he was told about it by the Maori!) that was eventually made into the first stage-coach route through the Alps. He had a father and a brother who were both engineers and so it was always called 'Arthur's' pass to distinguish him from his family.
The first cars along the route had to be helped over the river-beds by horses, hopefully better treated.
No horses were injured or exploited on this trip. I made it to the other side by engine power and then onto my waiting bus, bound for the small community at Punakaiki where, apparently, there are some spectacular rocks and beaches.