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.

Goat Hill via Barrack Creek Route, Arthur's Pass

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. 

I recommend this walk in fine weather and when dry underfoot. Track notes at the end.

Goat Hill via Barrack Creek Route: The Scenery

Goat Hill via Barrack Creek Route, Arthur's Pass
Lush forest on the lower slopes.
Goat Hill via Barrack Creek Route, Arthur's Pass
A werewere-kokako. These blue mushtooms are on New Zealand’s $50 bill. Very cute. My wife Sophia noticed this – she’s not all that attentive, but is mad about mushrooms.
Goat Hill via Barrack Creek Route, Arthur's Pass
Look backing down to the Otira River. It was hard to imagine what this would look like when clear, but we got those views on the way back, and they were certainly spectacular.
Goat Hill via Barrack Creek Route, Arthur's Pass
The sub-alpine scrub at maybe 900-1000m of elevation.
Goat Hill via Barrack Creek Route, Arthur's Pass
There were a number of alpine plants I’d not seen before. I imagine these would look very nice when in bloom, although still interesting like this.
Goat Hill via Barrack Creek Route, Arthur's Pass
Spider webs.
Goat Hill via Barrack Creek Route, Arthur's Pass
Climbing the last bit towards the summit of Goat Hill (1656m).
Goat Hill via Barrack Creek Route, Arthur's Pass
Looking up towards the summit. It looked like it might clear but that wasn’t to happen for another hour and a half.
Goat Hill via Barrack Creek Route, Arthur's Pass
Sophia heading off back as I waited around for the cloud to clear and get a few shots. It’s hard to leave a mountain without getting the views and the photos of those views.
Goat Hill via Barrack Creek Route, Arthur's Pass
Cloud clearing from Barrack Valley. It was exciting to see what we’d been missing, and the views kept opening up from here.
Goat Hill via Barrack Creek Route, Arthur's Pass
Sophia left the summit before me. You can see her on the ridge.
Goat Hill via Barrack Creek Route, Arthur's Pass
I didn’t get such a great view of Deception Valley as the cloud was still clearing when I decided it was time to leave the summit.
Goat Hill via Barrack Creek Route, Arthur's Pass
Gorge Creek feeding into the Deception River.
Goat Hill via Barrack Creek Route, Arthur's Pass
The cloud clearing from Barrack Valley.
Goat Hill via Barrack Creek Route, Arthur's Pass
Getting a look at the Otira River.
Goat Hill via Barrack Creek Route, Arthur's Pass
Barrack Creek Valley. The mist clearing from Mt Rolleston on the right.
Goat Hill via Barrack Creek Route, Arthur's Pass
A panorama south.
Goat Hill via Barrack Creek Route, Arthur's Pass
Our second lunch spot on point 1578m. Sophia waited here for me to take pictures at the summit and on the ridge as the cloud cleared.
Goat Hill via Barrack Creek Route, Arthur's Pass
A panorama looking back towards the summit (left). I think that is Mt Franklin centre right.
Goat Hill via Barrack Creek Route, Arthur's Pass
Mt Stuart left and Mt Rolleston centre right.
Goat Hill via Barrack Creek Route, Arthur's Pass
Mt Rolleston centre left.
Goat Hill via Barrack Creek Route, Arthur's Pass
Rock patterns.
Goat Hill via Barrack Creek Route, Arthur's Pass
Goat Hill on the right, and point 1578m on the left.
Goat Hill via Barrack Creek Route, Arthur's Pass
Sophia admiring Mt Rolleston (2275m). This is still on the to-do list, but might require some more experience and snow craft skills before we take it on.
Goat Hill via Barrack Creek Route, Arthur's Pass
A pleasing panorama of Arthur’s Pass National Park to the south-west.
Goat Hill via Barrack Creek Route, Arthur's Pass
The summit poking out to the right.

Goat Hill via Barrack Creek Route, Arthur's Pass

Goat Hill via Barrack Creek Route, Arthur's Pass
Sophia backed by Mt Stuart (or at least point 1835m – the summit is a bit out of view I think).
Goat Hill via Barrack Creek Route, Arthur's Pass
Mt Rolleston, Mt Philistine and the Otira River. We could only see half way up these mountains on the way out.

Goat Hill via Barrack Creek Route, Arthur's Pass

Goat Hill via Barrack Creek Route, Arthur's Pass
In the sub-alpine scrub.
Goat Hill via Barrack Creek Route, Arthur's Pass
This sub-alpine forest/woodland reminded me a bit of some Australian forests.
Goat Hill via Barrack Creek Route, Arthur's Pass
A few big trees about, this one leaning out over the hillside.
Goat Hill via Barrack Creek Route, Arthur's Pass
It was a steep track through the forest.
Goat Hill via Barrack Creek Route, Arthur's Pass
Very ferny.
Goat Hill via Barrack Creek Route, Arthur's Pass
Crossing the boulder strewn Barrack Creek on the way back. I fell here on the way out and cut myself. The boulders are not that stable so beware!


Track Notes

Goat Hill via Barrack Creek Route, Arthur's Pass
It’s a sometimes steep & rough but nevertheless well marked track through the forest, then alpine scrub to the bushline. From there you follow the increasingly rocky ridge with a scramble to reach the summit. A fun walk but not for beginners, and best in dry weather I’d say.

The route starts at the side of the road just before the Otira River Bridge. You follow a grassy vehicle track through a fence and onto the bouldery Barrack Creek bed. Walk upstream for maybe 5 minutes or so and keep your eyes out for an orange marker on the northern side where you enter the forest. (There’s a scramble required just to get out of the creek bed).

It’s a sometimes steep & rough but nevertheless well marked track through the forest, then alpine scrub to the bushline. There is some scrambling required through the forest pretty much from the get go. And the track markers get less frequent in the heath vegetation higher up, but there are a few small cairns around and we never felt like we would lose the track. From the bushline you follow the increasingly rocky ridge with more scrambling to reach the summit.

A fun walk but not for beginners, and best in dry weather I’d say. I wouldn’t want to climb back down through the forest in the wet, nor do all that boulder hopping and scrambling on the ridge. We got the idea for the walk from Canterbury Foothills and Forest: A Walking and Tramping Guide.

Author: Edward Hathway

I'm a clinical psychologist and keen hiker.

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