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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 2, Issue 7 (November 1, 1927)


Tourists travel the world in search of that kind of fascinating scenery to be found associated with lofty snow capped peaks, glaciers, and rugged mountain valleys. Here, within 87 miles of Christchurch, is Arthur's Pass, in the heart of the Southern Alps, offering all of the above attractions, and other joys besides, for we have a wealth of bush scenery in direct contrast to the above attractions. Waterfalls abound on all sides, and in the beautiful Otira Gorge the majestic tree ferns stand high above the underscrub and spread their gorgeous fronds in a manner most enticing. Add to these scenic wonders the flowering ribbonwood, and one has a veritable fairyland.

“Red Cap.” porter assisting passengers.

“Red Cap.” porter assisting passengers.

Having in imagination viewed the scene in panorama, let me now escort the reader to a point of special interest -the “Punch Bowl” waterfall. Here we observe the perennial rainbow, and here we quench our thirst by drinking of the clear sparkling waters of the noted fall. Proceeding through the Gorge we pass en route the waters of McGraths' Creek, at the head of which are to be found ice caves of exceptional beauty; at the roadman's hut, we turn off to the left, and take the track in the direction of the mighty “Rolleston.” Our path thence runs through picturesque virgin bush, but though the track may not be of the best, be assured our journey will be well worth while. We pause in our stride to secure a footing on the ladder which serves as a bridge across the Bealey River, and then on again through the bush until we reach the “Tarn.” Here we pause to enjoy the wondrous beauty of the scene which reveals itself for many miles around; on one hand the beautiful Bealey River, and on the other the “Blimit,” one of the many lofty peaks in a long mountain range disappearing in passing clouds. Our goal, the Bealey Glacier, lies ahead, and we must move on. Through another short stretch of bush and once again we meet the waters of the Bealey on the bank of which kindly hands have placed a camp billy. There being an abundance of dry kindling wood, we are soon able to partake of an excellent cup of billy tea. Having thus refreshed ourselves, we proceed up the valley. Large blocks of ice severed from the main glacier soon hold our attention; on ahead is the main glacier, under which for a considerable distance runs a cave. Stepping on to the ice we make our way carefully, skirting deep crevasses which reveal a depth, varying up to sixty feet underfoot. The atmosphere has now become much warmer: in place of the cool breeze we feel a wind that reminds us of a Christchurch Nor' Wester. Further ahead we spy the toboggan and, allowing our curiosity to overcome other feelings, we find ourselves sliding through space over the ice until we come to rest in the soft snow below. This exhilarating pastime has set us aglow and we revel in the mountain murmurings, beholding on all sides the various waterfalls dashing to streams below, and flowing on to form the source of the swiftly rushing Bealey River. On all sides enormous ice and snow fields hold our attention; with the setting sun, they turn from white to a pale blue, eventually changing before our eyes to a pale crimson. Having explored the magnificent ice caves we retrace our steps, arriving back in Arthur's Pass after a brief absence of six hours.

The above are but a few of the many attractions that are to be found around what will some day be known as “The Playground of Canterbury.”