It's a gorgeous drive with stunning scenery. Weatherwise you might encounter rain or sunshine, possibly both.
It is hard to predict the weather for Dec as sometimes it can be wet but also we enjoy some gorgeous weather during Dec.
The road was built in 1865 for stage coaches, and it still amazes me how the teams of horses pulled the stage coaches over these passes. most of the road follows the original stage coach route.
the amount of traffic on this route is normally very light
Thanks Wanakalakes and Coaster2.
We do not have mountain passes where we live, but if stage coaches can go on these roads and traffic is light, we can probably manage. :)
Coaster is correct that Coaches did make it over before the railway tunnel. Those were the days, they would have sorted "the men from the boys"! Have a look at the former Prime Ministers coach in the DOC visitors centre.
My folks talked about the trip being quite an ordeal in the post war days.
These days it's a beautiful trip. The viaduct is 400 meters long but it replaced 4km of twisty road. 1.5 million people pass the DOC visitors centre on Coaches per year. Over a hundred thousand go into the VC annually.
There are 2 main hazzards. Tourists stopping for photos in dangerous places (even in centre of 1 way bridges) for photos. There are lots of safe places. The other hazzard is Kea attacking the shiny bit of your car. Just avoid feeding them (even with food) as it is bad for them.
This is one of my favourite drives anywhere, regardless of the weather.
One of the appeals of the drive is the constantly changing landscape. From the Canterbury Plains, then the foothills, the beech forest on the eastern side of the ranges, the alpine landscape at the top of the two passes (Porters Pass is actually somewhat higher than Arthurs Pas) then the lush rain forest as you go down the other side and out on to the wild and raggy West Coast plains.
The climb and descent does have a fair bit of twist and turn - but it's still easy driving if you are careful.
Another option to think about - to take State Highway 7 over the Lewis Pass to the West Coast. It's longer but in my opinion it is more attractive and in some ways more interesting.
Well David, you description makes me want to take the drive this afternoon! I might disagree about the Lewis as I find the Canterbury side a bit tedious, but my guess is that if you did a round trip over both passes any group would be split 50:50.
Hi guys, I have one more question. I understand that there is a great photostop at Otira Viaduct Lookout. Is that along the way or do we need to make a detour off the main road? Will there be signs pointing to the Lookout along the main road that I can look out for? Thanks.
Yep, you won't miss the lookout, it's signposted. Just don't do what some do and stop in the middle of the road to take pics.
We are thinking of stopping at Arthur Pass to do one short walk. Will we have time for these and still make it to Greymouth for a visit to Shanty Town? We will be staying at Punakaiki that night. There seems to be 2 short walks at Arthur Pass which seems interesting, Punchbowl Falls Track and Bridal Veil Track. Have any of you tried it? These tracks are suppose to be easy, but I'm not sure what "easy" means. I have a 5 year old and do you think she can make it on any one of these? Any advise will be appreciated. Thanks.