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.

The river bed - © Anthony Fawcett


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: 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.


We have a lot of helpful practical information and tips about this walk, covering everything from the best books and maps, to timing and weather, geting there, possible problems, whether you need a guide and where to find them, and useful websites. This section is only open to members.

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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.

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

Alpine flowers - © Anthony Fawcett

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.

Nearing the summit - © Anthony Fawcett...

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