Day 14: Arthur's Pass, Earthquakes, and Goodbye for Now

On our last real day in New Zealand we took off from Franz Josef and made our way to Arthur's Pass (3 hours away).

Arthur's Pass is a very small town that serves the exact purpose as its name states, it’s a pass. There are 3 ways to cross the Southern Alps and Arthur's Pass is one of them. We stayed in a nice little Airbnb that was in the backyard of the only pub/restaurant in town called The Wobbly Kea. We ate lunch here (pizza) and then despite the weather not being great we took off on some more hikes. The first hike we did was to the Devil’s Punchbowl Falls and was the best waterfall we have seen thus far.

We then went and hiked the Arthur's Pass Walkway which was through the bush but had waterfalls and good views of mountains when the fog would clear up. In all we got in about 4 hours of hiking.

After the hike we went back to The Wobbly Kea for a couple of drinks and we shared their beef casserole, which was delicious. Little did we know that our night was just getting started!

At about midnight, I woke up to Caitlin shaking me (more) and telling me that we were having an earthquake. In my somewhat dazed state of mind, I insisted that it was the electric heating blanket and it's fine. This of course makes zero sense, but I soon realized it wasn’t the heating blanket when I saw the ceiling lights sway back and forth, the items on the dressers wobble and fall, and the shaking continue. As you can imagine, it was quite difficult to fall back to sleep. And, as most of you probably know by now, the earthquake was very large (7.5 on whatever earthquake scale they use), followed by aftershocks that were themselves large earthquakes. We are definitely lucky seeing as to how the places affected the most were places that we had visited and roads that we had driven within the last couple of weeks—particularly Kaikoura.

Today we returned our noble steed (Doris the car) in Christchurch and have already landed back in Auckland, where we will be leaving early tomorrow morning for Sydney. Our layover in Sydney is 6-7 hours so we got some temporary visas and are planning on leaving and at least going to see the Opera House. After Sydney we head to Dallas and then back to Des Moines. Overall we'll be traveling a consecutive 30+ hours, if everything runs according to schedule.

Assuming our flights get out on time and everything goes to plan, this will be the last blog post from this trip. We both want to thank everyone who followed along. This was the trip of a lifetime and we had a lot of fun documenting all of this. Hopefully it will serve as something fun to look back on and show our kids someday and if you or anyone you know is planning on going to New Zealand have them reach out to us! We also hope this won’t be our last blog series, and there will be other trips in the future you can follow.

Thanks again!

Ian and Caitlin

P.S. If any of you know someone at The Travel Channel and want to send them this blog so we could just make this a full time job that would be much appreciated!   

P.S.S. You know you picked the right person when you get a car that doesn't have a working radio, cd player, or any other form of distraction and you drive (at the BARE MINIMUM) 42 HOURS and (at the VERY LEAST) 1928 MILES together—and you're still alive and laughing (deliriously?) at the end.