New Zealand facts & history in brief
New Zealand Map
The Southern Alps running
from the north to the south, practically
the entire length of the South Island
and separates Westland from Canterbury.
The Otira Gorge/Pass in the
Waimakariri River Valley on the
west side and the Arthur's Pass on
the east side is one of the
only three accesses from
the East coast to the West Coast, in
the South Island.
Before European settlement of New
Zealand, the local Maoris used to
track through Arthur's Pass to collect
greenstone from western river beds.
The first European to find the
route through the Southern
Alps was Arthur Dobson in 1864.
The Otira is very steep with
many rock falls, often making the
While the eastern side of the Alps
very dry, the western side usually
very wet. The railway running from
Christchurch in the east to Greymouth
in the west and running through
a 8.5 km tunnel was the first electrified
track in New Zealand.
Near the village of Arthur's Pass is
the Arthur's Pass railway station, where
the diesel engines change electric ones, for
the journey through the tunnel.
In recent years a Transalpine Express
used to take tourist through this
stunningly beautiful scenery from
Like many other things lack of
profitability caused the
recent demise of it.
Please check this out as my
information might be outdated.
Recently Highway 73 was upgraded
by a viaduct through the most
dangerous part of the Otira gorge.
Most of the surrounding
are is part of a National Park.
There are many popular
You can click on these photos for an enlargement.
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