New Zealand is one of the most scenic nations in the world to enjoy hiking and camping in. It has a rugged beauty that’s second to none. If you find yourself in the country and are looking for a good day hike in the Southern Alps, you may want to consider visiting Arthur’s Pass National Park and trying the Avalanche Peak trek on the country’s wonderful south island.
(Photo credit: Ben Beiske)
Arthur’s Pass is a small and charming village up in the Southern Alps and this is where the adventurous hike begins. The Arthur’s Pass National Park is maintained and operated by New Zealand’s DOC (Department of Conservation). The hike could be regarded as being pretty tough and it will take most of the day to complete it. It’s about 4 miles in length and there’s also a climb of about 6,000 feet involved in it.
Before setting off on the hike you should visit the local Arthur’s Pass DOC office. You’ll be able to find this in the village and it will be able to provide you with some important information. This includes information on the trail conditions as well as updated forecasts on the area’s weather. The office also features a small visitor’s tourist center where you can get some information on the region’s diverse historical and environmental backgrounds.
After you’ve gotten everything you need you can begin the Avalanche Peak hike here. Once you cross over the Avalanche Creek the climb will start. The hike into the bush is quite scenic as you’ll make your way through alpine meadows, tussock grass, and mountain beech trees. The wildlife is pretty active here and you’ll likely come across some interesting birds such as fantails and bellbirds.
Once you get out of the bushy area the visibility will improve greatly. The Avalanche Peak Trail will then join together with Scotts Track prior to the ridge hike to the summit. Both of the trails will be marked with poles. The views from the summit are absolutely amazing, but you need to careful as the final stage of the climb is often dangerous when the weather’s bad.
Some of the mountains you’ll be able to see include Mount Rolleston, Crow Glacier, and Mount Cook. When you’re at the summit you may also be able to see a kea, which is a native alpine parrot. Descending down from Scotts Trails is typically easier than climbing up it and there’s more excellent scenery on the way back to the village.
You can reach Arthur’s Pass village by highway and by train. If you’re leaving from the towns of Greymouth or Christchurch you can take the Tranzalpine Express or Highway 73. Greymouth and Christchurch hotels vary in cost and size that can accommodate a backpackers budget.
The village sits in the National Park’s heart. The Maori people were the first to discover Arthur’s Pass and it was used as an important trade route that connected the region’s west and east coasts. You can also find lodging in the village as there’s suitable accommodations for all types of travel budgets. You’ll also find a campground located close to the DOC office as well as restaurants, a gas station, and a general store.