Best Day-Hikes in Arthur’s Pass National Park

Quintessential New Zealand scenery on these classic day-walks in Arthur’s Pass National Park, all accessible from Christchurch on a day-trip.

I haven’t done a single bad walk in Arthur’s Pass National Park, so when it comes to a best-of list it’s basically just a list of walks I’ve done. There’s quintessential New Zealand scenery on all of these tramps: a mix of high and often snow capped peaks, deep braided river valleys, rugged cliffs, and lush native forest. It’s pristine wilderness that is very accessible from Christchurch – a picturesque drive of roughly 1.5-2 hours.

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Kellys Hill via Carroll Hut, Arthur’s Pass National Park NZ

A steep climb through lush West Coast forest to Kellys Hill (1394m) via Carroll Hut for excellent views over numerous peaks and valleys in Arthur’s Pass National Park and to the west.

This is a nice but steep walk up through lush West Coast forest to Carroll Hut, then up to Kellys Hill (1394m) on a marked route for excellent views over Arthur’s Pass National Park and out to the West Coast. There’s some scrambling required in a few places to get up through the forest, but otherwise it’s a fairly straightforward and shorter walk than many in Arthur’s Pass. It’s a good option if you want a West Coast experience that is accessible from Christchurch in a day, and you don’t mind a rough forest track. Continue reading “Kellys Hill via Carroll Hut, Arthur’s Pass National Park NZ”

Woolshed Hill Track, Arthur’s Pass National Park NZ

The Woolshed Hill Track is an excellent walk of only moderate difficulty with great views over peaks & valleys in Arthur’s Pass National Park from the summit at 1429m.

I’d been saving the Woolshed Hill Track for winter, when I thought I could get good snowy views for moderate effort and without avalanche risk. The walk certainly delivered, with excellent views from the summit of Woolshed Hill (1429m) over the Waimakariri, Hawdon and Andrews Valleys, and many of other snow capped peaks in Arthur’s Pass including Mt Binser and the Pyramid. And there was enough snow on the tops to make it feel a bit alpine up there, (although somebody who walked it a week later said the snow had gone). Continue reading “Woolshed Hill Track, Arthur’s Pass National Park NZ”

Mt Cassidy – Blimit Traverse, Arthur’s Pass National Park NZ

Fabulous alpine views, lovely beech forest, and a good amount of adventure on the Mt Cassidy – Blimit Traverse at Arthur’s Pass.

The Mt Cassidy – Blimit Traverse starts on the Cons Track and finishes on the Temple Basin Track and Arthur’s Pass Walking Track. But in between it is one of the more adventurous of the very accessible walks starting on the highway at Arthur’s Pass. I’ve got used to these walks being spectacular but I think this one probably took the views to a new level.

You get to bag two peaks, Mt Cassidy (1850m) and Blimit (1922m, apparently short for “Bloody Limit”), the latter being a longish scramble to probably the best views of the day. Returning via Temple Basin makes it a quite varied circuit. Apart from epic alpine vistas, there is very attractive beech forest on the way up the Cons Track, amongst the nicest I’ve seen in New Zealand. So for views and adventure in a medium to long day this route is hard to beat. Continue reading “Mt Cassidy – Blimit Traverse, Arthur’s Pass National Park NZ”

Goat Hill via Barrack Creek Route, Arthur’s Pass NZ

Magnificent views on an adventurous route up through lush West Coast forest & along a rocky alpine ridge to Goat Hill (1656m) in Arthur’s Pass National Park near Otira.

This somewhat adventurous climb up the Barrack Creek Route to Goat Hill (1656m) was our first walk on the West Coast side of Arthur’s Pass National Park. The views are really spectacular, and include Mt Rolleston and numerous other peaks, the Otira River, Deception Valley, and the attractive Barrack Creek Valley. Also, the vegetation is different enough to add interest for someone used to the plants back east. The route is quite rough in sections, both through the forest and up towards the summit, and requires some scrambling. If you are okay with this then it will only add to the adventure. All in all a very satisfying day tramp that we’ll be sure to repeat. And you’ll probably have the place to yourself.  Continue reading “Goat Hill via Barrack Creek Route, Arthur’s Pass NZ”

Mt Binser ascent, Arthur’s Pass National Park NZ

Top class views of numerous peaks & two river valleys on this somewhat adventurous walk up Mt Binser (1860m) in Arthur’s Pass National Park.

Mt Binser had been recommended by a mountaineering neighbour of ours as a walk with great views and a bit of bush bashing to add to a sense of adventure. My wife Sophia rated the views as possibly the best we’d seen since arriving in NZ seven months earlier, which was a big call considering the quality of walks we’d done in that time. The views were spectacular though, taking in two river valleys, including views right up the Waimakariri River, countless peaks in every direction, many of them now familiar to us from other walks, and the rugged bare slopes of Mt Binser itself. Continue reading “Mt Binser ascent, Arthur’s Pass National Park NZ”

Mt Bealey ascent, Arthur’s Pass National Park NZ

A classic walk in Arthur’s Pass National Park to the summit of Mt Bealey (1836m), with grand mountain and valley views most of the way.

Climbing Mt Bealey is one of a few classic walks starting conveniently on the highway through Arthur’s Pass Village. The others include the popular walk up neighbouring Avalanche Peak , Mt Aicken across the valley, plus more we’ve yet to do. As for all of these walks you start with a steep ascent in beech forest, then once above the bushline there are extensive views of very scenic country, with many a rugged peak and deep valley to feast your eyes upon. Continue reading “Mt Bealey ascent, Arthur’s Pass National Park NZ”

Bealey Spur to point 1545m, Arthur’s Pass National Park NZ

The Bealey Spur Track is a classic walk to viewpoints over the braided Waimakariri River Valley. For 360 degree views continue to a minor peak at 1545m.

The classic and reasonably popular walk up the Bealey Spur Track offers excellent views over Arthur’s Pass National Park for less effort than climbing nearby mountains. There’s also no avalanche danger, so after significant spring snowfall we headed out there on a weekday to see some magical snowy scenes. And being on a weekday we had the place to ourselves. You can get great views of the braided Waimakariri River Valley from quite early on in the walk at roughly 980m of elevation. Most people continue through attractive beech forest and over plains of tussock grass to Bealey Top Hut, but for the full experience I recommend continuing past the hut to a minor peak at 1545m. Continue reading “Bealey Spur to point 1545m, Arthur’s Pass National Park NZ”

Mt Aicken ascent (1863m), Arthur’s Pass National Park NZ

Superb alpine scenery in all directions on this lesser known walk up Mt Aicken (1863m) in Arthur’s Pass National Park.

On our first visit to Arthur’s Pass National Park we climbed the popular Avalanche Peak. On this walk there were great views across the valley, and I was particularly enamoured by a smaller valley that bent around out of sight behind some mountains. (This valley contains Devils Punchbowl Creek, and the impressive waterfall of the same name is easily visited). I noticed that a route up Mt Aicken would provide views of this valley, and after a little research we decided to return a few days later to climb it. The views were fabulous, at least as good as Avalanche Peak but with much fewer people. And it felt a bit more adventurous being mostly off track and unmarked. Continue reading “Mt Aicken ascent (1863m), Arthur’s Pass National Park NZ”

Devils Punchbowl Walking Track, Arthur’s Pass National Park NZ

A steep but short and well formed track takes you to a viewpoint below the impressive Devils Punchbowl Falls. Accessible grandeur in Arthur’s Pass.

I first saw Devils Punchbowl Falls from afar on my way down the Scotts Track, from the summit of Avalanche Peak. They were an impressive sight and I thought I would have to visit them one day. It turns out the short track to the falls starts nearby the start/end of the Scotts Track, so we did it that same day. It’s a nice short but steep walk up through beech forest to a viewpoint below the falls. Maps show the falls to be 112m, although the DOC website claims they are 131m. They are big anyway, and worth seeing. Continue reading “Devils Punchbowl Walking Track, Arthur’s Pass National Park NZ”