Arthur's Pass National Park

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Arthur's Pass National Park was established in 1929, becoming the first national park in the South Island and the third in New Zealand. The park is administered by the Department of Conservation which operates a depot, administration and information centre in Arthur's Pass village. Arthur's Pass is the highest pass over the Southern Alps, the eastern side of the park is characterised by wide, shingle-filled riverbeds and vast dry beech/tawhai forests and the western side, where wet weather is more common than dry, has deeply gorged rivers flowing through a dense luxuriant rainforest. Down the middle of 'the great divide' is a historic highway, a spectacular piece of extreme civil engineering involving viaducts, bridges, rock shelters and waterfalls redirected into chutes, and a railway running through an alpine dreamland of snow-covered peaks, glaciers and large scree slopes. The park has many peaks over 2000 metres - the highest is Mount Murchison at 2,400 metres. All the main valleys of the park are deep and steep sided, with the U-shaped profile typical of glacial action. Above the sub-alpine shrub lands, there are enchanting alpine fields with wild flowers. Arthur Pass is named after Sir Arthur Dudley Dobson (1841–1934), who led the first party of Europeans across the pass in 1864. He had been told of the pass by West Coast Maori Chief, Tarapuhi, the pass was known to Maori hunting parties as a route between east and west. When Arthur Dobson first encountered the precipitous Otira Gorge, the pass was almost impassable - he had to leave his horse at the top and lower his dog on a rope. The village at Arthur's Pass is the starting point for many short walks. The entrance to the historic Otira rail tunnel can be seen here - an epic engineering feat through 8.5 kilometres of rock.
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Southern Alps, Selwyn District, Canterbury (Direction)

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