Arthur's Pass Area

  • Otira Valley - © Anthony Fawcett
  • Alpine flowers - © Anthony Fawcett
  • © Anthony Fawcett
  • The river bed - © Anthony Fawcett
  • Nearing the summit - © Anthony Fawcett

Key information: Arthur's Pass Area

  • Superb Southern Alps walking around New Zealand's highest settlement. 
  • Gorgeous scenery and a variety of walks. Avalanche Peak is a must. See also the Otira Valley.
  • These walks are in high, remote mountains with unpredictable weather. Come prepared.

Walkopedia rating

  • Walkopedia rating84
  • Beauty34
  • Natural interest17
  • Human interest2
  • Charisma32
  • Negative points1
  • Total rating84
  • Note: Neg: likely bad weather

Vital Statistics

  • Length: Variable
  • Maximum Altitude: 1,833m
  • Level of Difficulty: Variable

This walk description page is at an early stage of development, and will be expanded over time. Your comments on this walk, your experiences and tips, and your photos are very welcome.

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The river bed - © Anthony Fawcett

WALK SUMMARY

Walkopedia friend Anthony Fawcett says:

"Why Arthur's Pass?

The village is spectacular.  Nestled in a valley in the middle of the Southern Alps, it is New Zealand's highest altitude settlement.  It can be accessed by road or by train and it has decent places to stay.  Choice of restaurants is more limited but sufficiently good to meet most tastes. The only warning is to take care with timing if you are planning to eat late.  The town is relatively remote and the main restaurant (the Wobbly Kea) closes its kitchen quite early (8 p.m., or 9 p.m. on a weekend), so if you are on the road and intend to eat on arrival, plan accordingly. 

Arthur's Pass is a perfect destination for one-day hikers who do not have the time/desire to spend longer out on the trail but who still want some of the most beautiful and challenging tramping that the country can offer. (And who would also do well to purchase this book: http://www.pottonandburton.co.nz/store/day-walks-in-new-zealand which I would highly recommend.)

You are surrounded by mountains and can step out straight onto a trail; there's no need to stay in huts.  (Although, having said that, the trails discussed here could be converted into more adventurous experiences if that's what you want.)  I missed not waking up in the middle of the bush, but that was counter-balanced by the knowledge that there was a hot shower, fresh linen and decent food waiting for me at the end of the day.  I've tramped all over NZ, both on the North and South Islands, and I don't know of a place that can provide better access to so many enjoyable trails in such close proximity.

Arthur's Pass is the only tourist spot in NZ within a great spotted kiwi/roroa habitat - it's  possible that you might see one, although they are very shy.

The Trails

I stayed three nights, arriving in the evening and then walking three tracks over the next two days - Avalanche Peak, Bealey Spur (south of Arthur's Pass) and Otira Valley. (There are many other options so this is, by necessity, a partial survey!)

Of these, Avalanche Peak is a must if you only have one full day, do this trail.  However, Otira Valley was unexpectedly enjoyable as well. This would be my second choice.  Bealey Spur is also great, but access is some way south of the village and the trail itself does not match the beauty of the other two. (Although it's also worth noting that weather conditions are very localized in this region - Bealey Spur receives a lot less rainfall - so if conditions are not good in the village itself, head for this trail.)

Make sure that you check in at the DOC before you set off (do it before you hit the Avalanche Peak trail which can be accessed direct from the carpark beside the DOC office).  It's a region prone to avalanches and rapid changes in weather."

Walkopedia says: Thank you, Anthony.

Other recommendations are welcome!

Have a look at TripAdvisor - there are tens of millions of reviews, so you may get good, current views on this walk.

Other accounts: share your experiences

Your comments on this walk, your experiences and suggestions, and your photos are very welcome. Where appropriate, you will be credited for your contribution.

PRACTICAL INFORMATION

See also expedition planning, including our universal expedition checklist. Walkopedia encourages responsible travel.


Books and Maps

Suggest books and maps

Books on this walk (support us: find these and many more using our Amazon search box)

Tramping in New Zealand - Lonely Planet (Jim Dufresney)

New Zealand – Lonely Planet, has good basic information on this walk.

New Zealand – Trailblazer

Other books (support us: find these and many more using our Amazon search box)


Maps

Good maps are available locally.

Stanfords: www.stanfords.co.uk. An excellent (it the most user-friendly) online specialist source of worldwide maps (it is also good for guidebooks).

Best times to walk/weather

Best times to walk

Summer/autumn (November to April), with December to March the most consistent weather. But winter can be beautiful – and empty: but a serious walk for experienced and well-equipped trekkers only.

Weather

Frequently poor even in summer: come prepared for unpredictable mountain weather at all times.

For detailed weather information, have a look at: www.worldweather.org or www.bbc.co.uk/weather/world/country-guides

Getting there/transport/permits/fees

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Car or bus.

Those on organised expeditions will be transported from/to arranged start/departure points.

Route(s)

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See Walk Summary above.

Possible problems, health, other warnings

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Mountain weather: snow, rain, severe cold and wind are possible at any time of year and the weather can change quickly. Come prepared and only if very experienced or with a guide in winter.

Heat and strong sun. Carry enough water and protect yourself.

Heights: not for those who have difficulties with heights.

See also the websites in our useful links page for more detailed, and up-to-date, information.

Safety and problems: All walks have inherent risks and potential problems, and many of the walks featured on this website involve significant risks, dangers and problems. Problems of any sort can arise on any walk. This website does not purport to identify any (or all) actual or potential risks, dangers and problems that may relate to any particular walk. Any person who is considering undertaking this walk should do careful research and make their own assessment of the risks, dangers and possible problems involved. They should also go to “Important information” for further important information.

Make sure you have appropriate insurance.

Guided or independent?

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Independent

You can do these walks independently, and most people do so.

Guided/supported

It is possible to form or join organised/supported expeditions. Walking with a knowledgeable guide has real advantages. Expedition organisers include:

See also “Getting there/transport” above for companies who will get you to/from the trail and generally help you get organized.

Accommodation

There is excellent and varied accommodation in the area.

Make sure you book ahead for peak periods.

The guidebooks have a selection of possible accommodation.

There are various accommodation websites.

See what the commentary on Tripadvisor is on possible places to stay – although do take their reviews with a pinch of salt, as they can be “interested”.

A good range of hotels can be found on the unimaginatively named but effective Hotels.com.

If you’re on a budget, Hostelbookersusually has a good selection of cheaper-end accommodation; or perhaps try for some bargain luxury on Lastminute.com.

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Other information and tips

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Useful websites and information

There are many websites with relevant information. Here are some that we think are useful or have been recommended to us.

·www.doc.govt.nz

·www.wikipedia.org – good starter information

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Other things to do in the area

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Other walks

Endless

Other activities

Mountain biking

Climbing

Alpine flowers - © Anthony Fawcett

OTHER ACCOUNTS
share your experiences

Add your experiences, suggestions and photos. We would be delighted to receive your writing and ideas (which will be attributed appropriately where published).

Anyone planning an expedition to this place should see further important information about this walk.

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Nearing the summit - © Anthony Fawcett...
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