The route up Mt Barron in Arthur’s Pass National Park was one of the most impressively rugged day-walks I’ve ever done. The walk starts in West Coast forest, which I enjoyed because my last few walks had been all tussock and scree; but this section is not a particular highlight. There’s a scramble through attractive sub-alpine vegetation, before you head off track to the summit. This section is dominated by the rugged Barron Ridge and various high peaks in Arthur’s Pass National Park. The views from the summit are the icing on the already tasty mountain cake. 🙂
The route to the summit looks a bit intimidating, but that adds to the sense of adventure and it turned out to be quite okay. Probably best to do this walk in good conditions though, as some sections could be a bit sketchy otherwise. Track notes at the end.
Mt Barron Route: The Scenery
Quite a gap here between this photo and the next, which is well into the alpine zone. I’ve included a few more shots later on from on my way down through the subalpine zone.
On my way down from here…
Back onto the marked route from here…
At first the track zig zags up the hill through forest. It is occasionally indistinct but soon becomes clear enough. The orange triangular markers are fairly frequent, so if you go for long without seeing them then you have probably left the track. Go back and look for the last marker you saw and try again.
Above the treeline you enter subalpine vegetation including harakeke / flax and various broadleaved bushes. It begins to get steep and you have to scramble your way up this section. Near the top the track disappears but there are a couple of final orange markers as you make your way finally through bluffs to a sign with the word ‘track’ on it. Look for this on your way down (obviously).
From here you find your own way. I kept to the south a bit to get some views, but whatever your route you should to climb to point 1569m over tussock and rock, then on to a basin below the summit. Here I hugged the western side of a prominent section of the ridge that leads to the summit, walking on blocky scree, keeping to the bigger rocks for better traction. The ridge looked intimidating from below, but I think I could have climbed straight up it on big, solid looking slabs of rock.
I eventually joined the ridge above that prominent section. It curves around to the west, and requires some easy scrambling enroute to the summit. Some of the rocks in shadow had a light frost at 12pm, so I imagine you’d have to take care in colder temperatures.
It took me about four hours up, and was a bit quicker, but not much, on the way down. The sign at the very bottom says 3 hours, but I don’t think many people would manage that.
There is another tracked route to the bushline that leaves from near Otira and passes by Goat Creek. I very much liked the views on the approach that I took however, so I reckon give the Mt Barron Route a go first (or else make a partial circuit). Here are some notes on the alternate routes on the arthurspass.com website.
You can park your car on the grass verge opposite the track, on the other side of the road. You can even see the old doc sign in the bushes on Google Street View. I think I have the right spot marked in the embedded map below…
3 thoughts on “Mt Barron Route, Arthur’s Pass National Park NZ”
Hi Edward. Yup, Tara Tama with Dunn Saddle, Mt Edelwiess and Newton Saddle all to the left. Permolat have just done up Dunn Ck Hut so I must get back there sometime soon. That Goat Ck track is even harder follow at the moment and needs some volunteer track cutting attention. It was wonderful when DoC Hokitika cut the Mt Barron track. I had the adventure of going up there before that and we failed to keep to the track, doing some scary steep climbing instead while the rest of them just plodded up a completely unexposed route. I was playing ‘follow the leader’. Big mistake.
I’d read it used to be overgrown. I asked doc Arthur’s Pass about it but they knew nothing. I guess I asked the wrong office! I read somewhere online that it was re-cut a few years ago. Such a great walk though. Actually, I came across your name online – I believe you and Frank maintain a few tracks yourselves! I met a hunter on my way down Mid Hill a couple of months ago who said he’d come across a guy by himself cutting a track on Blind Spur I think it was. I thought, that’s bloody dedicated!
Hi Edward. A track on Blind Spur. How exciting. I must go and have a look. There’s a tiny wee tarn 150m altitude SW below Pt 1750 where Frank and I camped one time – just big enough for a 2 person tent. We went down Bruce Stream but I should check out Blind Spur. It looks mean down at the bottom of that spur! On Freshmap the name Bruce Stream is obscuring a drop off point but my smartphone topo shows a bit of a spur with equidistant contour lines so a possible goer.
We met a guy recently hacking a benched track on the Okuku River DoC track to bypass climbs up and down slips. He’s made multiple trips in to do it, breaking it in from uncut steep terrain. That was admirable. What we do is just fun and we love doing it.