Saturday, September 1, 2012

Arthur's Pass and Oxford (New Zealand)

Once you start heading down the west coast of the South Island, there aren't really too many options to cross over back to the east coast. Arthur's Pass seems to be the main highway through the Southern Alps. The transition from the wetter rainforests in the west to the drier sub-alpine east makes for dramatic landscapes. Kea, a species of mountain parrot, attack camper vans of unsuspecting tourists who appreciate the photo opportunity initially and then realize the birds are tearing at their door seals. The Devil's Punchbowl trail is a nice opportunity to stretch your legs along the way and check out another waterfall.

Not far out of the mountains, Oxford doesn't even exist in the guide books, but the nice little village is home to more family. Rich's cousins own a small farm, and we got to admire the gardens and meet their Clydesdale and Lipizzaner horses. The Shetland ponies followed us around, but it was the alpacas that really stole our hearts. With no regard of personal space, they stick their furry faces right up in yours, look deep into your soul with their big eyes, and give you a solemn sniff to greet you. Hilarious!

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