Sensational Selwyn Pit Stops
Aside from the awesome skiing and snowboarding, Sensational Selwyn has plenty to offer in the way of stunning natural scenery and great hospitality. Here are a few of our favourite places to stop off at on the way to or from an unforgettable day in the mountains.
Castle Hill – Kura Tawhiti Conservation Area
European travellers named the Kura Tawhiti area Castle Hill for the spectacular limestone battlements that dominate the landscape. Kura Tawhiti is extremely popular for climbing and bouldering and there are a large number of bolted climbs available. Castle Hill is easily accessed from State Highway 73. It is the perfect place to stretch your legs and have a picnic in a majestic, unique landscape. Kura Tawhiti means “the treasure from a distant land” in Maori and is very sacred to the people of Ngai Tahu.
Cave Stream is one of the most accessible walk-and-wade caves in New Zealand, at Castle Hill. The 594 metre cave passage meanders and twists in total darkness between the two entrances. There are two track to access the cave entrances, both starting from the carpark. It's best to enter the cave at the outflow end and walk against the flow of the stream. There are several small waterfalls to climb and a rung ladder ascends the final waterfall to climb out of the cave.
It takes approximately one hour to go through, but you need to be well equipped. Carry at least two reliable torches per person plus spare batteries and wear warm polypropylene or wool clothing and sturdy footwear. Be sure to check the weather report and the stream levels before going through the cave. It is not suitable for small children.
Aside from going through the cave, the area is a great spot for a short walk and picnic, the carpark is easily accessed from State Highway 73. A short trail goes north to the upstream entrance, through a fascinating limestone landscape of solution holes, rillenkarren (water grooved rocks) and sculptured rock formations. The other track leads to the edge of a terrace overlooking the outflow entrance of the cave. It continues down the face of the terrace to the junction of Cave Stream and Broken River.
There are many short walks to enjoy in the area including to the base of one of the most impressive waterfalls in New Zealand, Devils Punchbowl. The waterfall is located in the heart of Arthur's Pass National Park. It can be seen from the highway, but it is worth the walk up to the viewing platform at the base at any time of the year. The walk is 1 hour return from the Devils Punchbowl carpark near Arthur’s Pass Village.
The Craigieburn Trails
In Craigieburn Forest Park there is a network of roads and dual purpose tracks which are popular for mountain biking. Between Castle Hill Village and Flock Hill there is 24km of single-track with a couple of short linking sections of ski-field road. You can start at either end or at mid-points such as the Craigieburn Shelter at the base of the Broken River skifield access road or Texas Flat on the Cheeseman access road. The track is mostly graded intermediate mountain bike grade. The tracks are not open year-round so you need to check the status before you ride.
The Laboratory in Lincoln offers an excellent range of craft beer, wood fired pizzas and tapas-style plates. It's the perfect spot to have a lazy brunch on the weekend if you're having a non-ski day or to stop off at and refuel after a great day in the mountains.
The famous pie shop in Sheffield is a must-stop destination for any pastry lover. They're located on State Highway 73 and have an excellent range of classic kiwi pies and sweet treats. For more delicious Selwyn Pie Pit Stops there's a great write up here.