Arthur's Pass

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Arthur's Pass
Township
Arthur's Pass Village
Arthur's Pass Village
Arthur's Pass is located in New Zealand
Arthur's Pass
Arthur's Pass
Coordinates: 42°56′43.4″S 171°33′56.4″E / 42.945389°S 171.565667°E / -42.945389; 171.565667Coordinates: 42°56′43.4″S 171°33′56.4″E / 42.945389°S 171.565667°E / -42.945389; 171.565667
CountryNew Zealand
RegionCanterbury
DistrictSelwyn
Founded1906 (originally named Bealey Flat)
ElectoratesSelwyn
Te Tai Tonga
Area
 • Total0.6 km2 (0.2 sq mi)
Elevation
739 m (2,425 ft)
Population
 • Total29
Time zoneUTC+12 (NZST)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+13 (NZDT)
Postcode
7654
Area code(s)03
Local iwiNgāi Tahu

Arthur's Pass, previously called Camping Flat then Bealey Flats, and for some time officially Arthurs Pass, is a township in the Southern Alps of the South Island of New Zealand, located in the Selwyn district. It is a popular base for exploring Arthur's Pass National Park.

Arthur's Pass township is about 5 km south of the mountain pass with the same name. Its elevation is 740 metres above sea level surrounded by beech forest. The Bealey River runs through the township. The town is located 153 km from Christchurch a 2-hour drive on SH 73.

Naming and history[edit]

The township and the pass take their names after Arthur Dudley Dobson (1841–1934, Sir Arthur from 1931). The Chief Surveyor of Canterbury Province, Thomas Cass, had tasked Arthur Dobson to find out if there was an available pass out of the Waimakariri watershed into valleys running to the West Coast. In 1864 Arthur's brother Edward Henry Dobson joined him and accompanied him over the watershed into the valley of the Otira River. A West Coast Māori chief, Tarapuhi, told Arthur of a pass that Māori hunting-parties occasionally used. When Arthur returned to Christchurch, he sketched the country he had traversed and included it in a report to Cass. Arthur Dobson did not name the pass, which he found very steep on the western side.[1] Dobson gave the name "Camping Flat" to the site that became the township.

When the West Coast gold rush began in 1864, a committee of businessmen offered a £200 prize for anyone who would find a better or more suitable pass from Canterbury over the Southern Alps to West Canterbury (the West Coast). At the same time George Dobson, (another brother), was sent to examine every available pass between the watershed of the Taramakau, Waimakariri, and the Hurunui. After examining passes at the head of every valley he reported that "Arthur's" pass was by far the most suitable for the direct crossing.[2]

The township, at the time named Bealey Flats after the second Superintendent of Canterbury, Samuel Bealey, was originally built as a construction village for the building of the Otira Tunnel, which started on 14 January 1908.[3] The railway from Christchurch reached Arthur's Pass township in 1914, the Westland section having advanced to Otira. Construction of the tunnel was very slow; it finally finished in 1923. The TranzAlpine passenger rail service passes through Arthur's Pass and the Otira Tunnel as part of its 223 kilometres (139 mi) journey from Christchurch to Greymouth. The trip is considered[by whom?] one of the world's great train journeys due to its scenery and views.

A power station was built[when?] below the Devil's Punchbowl Falls to provide electricity for the tunnel construction and for the village itself.

In 1929 the Arthur's Pass National Park was established[by whom?], New Zealand's third national park.[4][5]

The Geographic Board had a policy of omitting apostrophes in place names, and the name was officially changed[when?] to "Arthurs Pass". This caused a great upset with the local population, and the Minister of Lands reinstated the old version with the apostrophe. On 16 September 1975 the New Zealand Post Office also adopted the spelling with the apostrophe.[4]

Facilities and attractions[edit]

The township has a DOC ranger station, which also accommodates a visitor information and an informative display room. Visitor accommodation is provided, from camp ground up to hotel standard. The township provides a general store, a petrol station, tea rooms and restaurants.

There are also several good walks from here, including the Devil's Punchbowl Falls,[6] Bealey Valley[7] and Avalanche Peak.[8] The mischievous kea (New Zealand mountain parrot) can be found here.

The club skifield Temple Basin is nearby and is a popular attraction through winter.

The town can be reached by The Tranz Alpine Express train on the famous Midland Line. State Highway 73 also passes through the town.

References[edit]

  1. ^ McLintock, A. H. (22 April 2009). "DOBSON BROTHERS". Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Retrieved 30 September 2011.
  2. ^ McLintock, A. H. (22 April 2009). "DOBSON BROTHERS". Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Retrieved 21 November 2019. At the same time George Dobson was sent to examine every available pass between the watershed of the Taramakau, Waimakariri, and the Hurunui, and after examining passes at the head of every valley he reported that 'Arthur's' pass was by far the most suitable for the direct crossing.
  3. ^ http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/cgi-bin/paperspast?a=d&d=TC19080115.2.10 Colonist, Volume L, Issue 12140, 15 January 1908, Page 2; accessed 1 January 2010
  4. ^ a b http://www.nzhistory.net.nz/timeline&new_date=12/3 Article on Arthur's Pass on NZ History website; accessed 1 January 2010
  5. ^ Reed, A. W. (2010). Peter Dowling (ed.). Place Names of New Zealand. Rosedale, North Shore: Raupo. p. 31. ISBN 978-0-14-320410-7.
  6. ^ Short walking tracks in Arthur's Pass, Department of Conservation.
  7. ^ Half-day walks in Arthur's Pass, Department of Conservation.
  8. ^ Day walks in Arthur's Pass, Department of Conservation.

External links[edit]