Arthur’s Pass has a long history. Maori once travelled the route for trade and in search of pounamu (greenstone). Early Europeans first crossed the pass in 1864, led by Sir Arthur Dudley Dobson, after whom the pass was named. This was timely as traffic across the Alps significantly increased soon after when the West Coast was hit by a goldrush. The late 1990s saw considerable engineering work done to secure the road leading west through Otira. The Otira Viaduct, a 440m structure, replaced a winding portion of road that ran under a major rockfall hazard.
Arthur’s Pass Village is a popular base for exploring the National Park, with a small selection of restaurants, cafes and accommodation options, a local store and petrol pump, an information centre and Dept of Conservation. Activities to enjoy include walks, tramps, mountaineering and skiing options as well as hunting and fishing.
Arthur’s Pass National Park is both rugged and spectacular. Loose scree slopes give way to deep gorges, while charming lakes feed the wide rivers that meander around the mountains.
The Western side of Arthur’s Pass features podocarp rainforest and the red flowers of the rata, under this a lush mix of ferns, mosses and shrubs. Higher in altitude there are alpine meadows and snow tussock. The great spotted kiwi can be found in the Arthur’s Pass National Park, as can many kea – an inquisitive, cheeky alpine parrot, guard your gear!
The Department of Conservation (DOC) has detailed information about walking tracks in Arthur’s Pass National Park.
25kms from Greymouth, Kumara is a former gold mining town where many came to seek their fortune, particularly the Irish. The town was once the home of the most famous West Coaster, Richard John Seddon, Premier of the Liberal Government from 1893 until his death in 1906.
Today, Kumara is a service town for tourists and farmers. The race course at Kumara provides a base for competitors and their support teams heading off on the annual Coast to Coast endurance race and the annual Race Meeting brings thousands of visitors each year.
Kumara offers lots for the outdoor enthusiast from tramping, hunting and fishing to fossicking for gold. It is only an hour from three skifields in the Arthur's Pass National Park. Lake Brunner and the Taramakau River offer magnificent scenery and great brown trout fishing while the lower Taramakau is famous for its whitebait runs.
Kumara Must Sees
The Kumara Races are held annually in January. This is an historic race meeting, with the major race being the Kumara Gold Nuggets, which boasts a real gold nugget as the prize. This is a fantastic family day out and draws a huge crowd to soak up the entertainment and carnival atmosphere of this historic race day.
Speight's Coast to Coast
The Speight's Coast to Coast endurance race starts in Kumara township and has done for 26 years. The Coast to Coast attracts over 800 competitors each with their own support crews.