After breakfast, we set out from Springfield to Castle Hill. It is an area of giant limestone formations on a rolling hill landscape at the foot of the mountains. It served as the location for the filming of the final battle scene of the first Chronicles of Narnia film. We all climbed on the rocks and explored a little. Elias and I climbed up a few larger rocks and roamed further while Liz and Cohen sat to draw. We re-inacted a few battle scenes on the rocks. We would liked to have had more time there to observe and explore.
We continued on to Cave Stream. Pretty much like it sounds, it’s a stream running through a cave. Our guidebook said that it was a “must see” and that grandmothers and children have done it. Armed with that (rather optimistic) advice and our own poor judgment, we went for it with both boys. The stream was very cold, deep up to our waists at a few points early on, and with some steep and narrow shutes with fast flowing waters. Most of the cave is a couple of meters wide and looked to be about 5-10 meters tall; there was no light to be seen apart from our headlamps. I was pretty proud of myself for doing it all while holding Elias’s hand or outright carrying him; until I remembered that Liz was doing the whole thing with Cohen on her back. My jandals (that’s New Zealand speak for flip-flop) kept falling off in the stream, but Liz was quick enough to catch them down-stream; until, at last, my left jandal slipped past and was lost forever. The good news was that my feet were numb enough that it didn’t make much difference.
We soldiered on, and Elias was particularly impressive; he never once complained about being cold or wet or in the dark. Cohen put up quite the protest initially, but somehow actually fell asleep in the midst of the cave. We think he was asleep; he may have been comatose due to hypothermia. The biggest challenge was at the very end, when we had to ascend a ladder up and over a lip of the cave to the exit. Slipping off would have meant a 12 foot fall into a very cold pool of shallow water. With the help of some kind strangers, we did manage to all make it up safely. Liz then had to belly crawl out the last stretch to keep from bashing Cohen’s head on the rocks above. We escaped relatively unscathed (except for the lost jandal), but with the realization that taking a two year old probably wasn’t our best parenting move.
We were exhausted and hungry, so we drove on to Arthur’s Pass Village and ate at the Wobbly Kea Café & Bar for an early dinner. Just a short walk further down the road, we walked to Devil’s Punchbowl Falls. It plunges about 130 meters down a cliff in multiple terraced falls.
Everyone was pretty spent by then. We dropped on to the Tasman Sea coast and found a campsite for the night; soon it was raining pretty hard. We got everything set up and the boys in bed. We slept well.