Arthur’s Pass: Taking the windy road to Castle Hill

I awoke in the top-bunk of my Jucy Snooze pod and pulled up the curtain to find our other roomies had already left to start the day. 

With just 4 hours of sleep under our belts, we got up, checked out, walked to the airport with our bags trailing behind, and purchased a bowl of coffee each ($5.90NZD) and a ham and cheese croissant.

To kill time, we walked 2.5kms up the road from Christchurch airport to RV Super Centre – instead of catching the free shuttle, which any normal human being would do. But, we made it there prior to check-in, which is a great idea around peak season, because there are literally hundreds of eager travellers waiting to hop into their vehicles.

As we sat and watched the Britz safety videos, we began to wonder what we’d signed up for.

“I reckon it’s that one,” I said, pointing at a small Toyota van, which, in hindsight, looked basic as hell. 

“Yeah, that’d be mad.” Mark replied, with a grin on his face.

Gee-freakin-whizz. The Action Pod is a Mercedes van? This is where we’re going to live for the next 10 days?


With a double burner gas top, sink and 25L of water stowed away under the fold out bed, pillows, blankies, a table, two bean-bags, a light, camp chair and table – we were ready to hit the road.

And so we did!

First stop: Arthur’s Pass

LUNCH DAY 1: I opted for a 6inch sub from Subway, Mark went to a Sushi store right beside Countdown after we did the grocery shopping.

En route to Arthur’s pass, we dropped our jaws in awe and watched as the landscape swallowed our van. Twisting and turning, we saw rivers run in the valley below tall mountains with crumbly dirt, and avalanche-esque tip-tops. 


The strange rock formations of Castle Hill

We pulled up the van at Castle Hill – no, not my home – quite the opposite actually. For all of you LOTR fans, this is where one of the battles was filmed in The Fellowship of the Ring.










Pictures didn’t do this place justice, and neither did our thongs. We hiked up the rocks in thongs so that you didn’t have to make the same mistake – you’re welcome.


We walked back down the steep hill, careful not to bust a plugger, and hopped back in the van to wind our way through Arthur’s Pass national park, just as in awe as we were when we turned the first corner, each bend giving our eyes (and my camera) a new feast to demolish.

We had Avalanche Creek Shelter campsite in our sights (NZD$8 a night) but when we arrived, boy was it a disappointment. 

Situated right next to a train line, in between two delightfully steep hills, was perhaps the most disappointing campsite I’ve ever laid eyes on.

Good thing we’d already driven past Klondyke Corner campsite – FREE thanks to DOCS – and about 10kms back from Arthur’s Pass village.

So we backtracked, and pulled up at this beautiful spot for the evening.


FOR DINNER: We cooked up a feast in the back of the van with lamb, sweet potato and wilted spinach.


Did you know?

In summer the sun doesn’t set until 10:30. Seriously, the sky wont be dark until 11:00pm.

Klondyke Corner Campsite

  • DOCs campsite
  • $0
  • 1 stinky drop toilet (did not use)
  • Heaps of sandflies. This was our first night, so we weren’t too bothered. Looking back now, they were pretty bad. Therefore, I give this campsite a sandfly rating of 8/10

Keen to see more of Klondyke? Click here.

January 15, 2017

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