Arthur's Pass half-day walks
August 2014: Winter conditions in alpine areas
Snow now affecting higher tracks and routes. Ice axe, crampons and avalanche skills may be required. Please check with the Visitor Centre for current conditions in all alpine areas.
Time: 3 - 4 hr return
This is an attractive well-graded walk through mountain beech forest to the base of Mount Rolleston. The track starts from a car-park three km north of Arthur’s Pass Village on SH 73. Jack’s Hut, an historic road worker’s hut, is just across the road.
The track is bridged across the Bealey River at ‘The Chasm’. It then goes through a tussock clearing and into the forest again before reaching the river. From here you can scramble up the river-bed to go further up the valley. Avalanched snow often collects at the head of the valley in winter and remains throughout the year. This forms a false glacier which is undercut by the Bealey River flowing below it.
Warning: Avalanche debris collected at the head of the valley may be unstable. Large rocks and chunks of ice can fall at any time. Do not walk on the avalanche debris.
In winter when there is avalanche hazard do not go past the avalanche warning sign in the Upper Bealey Valley.
Time: 2 hr return to the footbridge (unmarked route beyond)
The track leaves from a car-park beside SH 73, just north of Arthur’s Pass summit.This relatively easy graded track follows up a deep alpine valley on the northern side of Mt Rolleston. It climbs over an old glacial moraine, then follows the contour through subalpine scrub and tussock to the Otira River foot-bridge. On a good day this is an awesome walk to view the summer alpine flowers.
Warning: The track finishes at the foot-bridge. Travel past this point requires map reading and route finding skills. For experience alpine trampers and mountaineers only.
This track is subject to avalanche hazard in winter.
Time: 3 hr return
This track starts from above the bush-line at the SH 73 roadside car-park, five km north of Arthur’s Pass township. A nature photographer’s dream, the track zig-zags up the hill to an open tussock basin and the Temple Basin Ski Club buildings. On a clear day you get magnificent views of Mt Rolleston across the valley.
Plan and prepare
Be safe and beware - this is mountain country
- Take warm clothing and raincoat, sunhat and sunscreen, something to eat and drink and strong footwear. Mountain weather can change quickly.
- Take a map - available from the Arthur’s Pass Visitor Centre. Boots are recommended footwear.
- Check the weather forecast before you go.
- Walking on tracks and routes above the bushline (the upper edge of the forest) is recommended only in good weather conditions. The routes are mostly unmarked and you need good visibility to find your way. Above the bush line you are exposed to the severity of the mountain weather.
- When snow covers the ground routes will be less obvious and there may also be a danger of avalanches - snow climbing equipment is recommended.
Before you go into the outdoors, tell someone your plans and leave a date to raise the alarm if you haven't returned. To do this, use the New Zealand Outdoors Intentions process on the AdventureSmart website. It is endorsed by New Zealand's search and rescue agencies and provides three simple options to tell someone you trust the details about your trip.
Discover Arthur's Pass brochure (PDF, 3,776K)
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