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 ascent, 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.

To get these views you have a fair physical challenge, including roughly 30 minutes untracked through forest, and then a steep ascent to the first of three peaks; there’s about 1500m of ascent and descent all up. There’s also steep scree slopes to negotiate once up on the tops, but in good weather it was all very doable and so I can highly recommend this walk for the moderately fit and experienced.

Track notes at the end.

Mt Binser ascent: The Scenery

Mt Binser ascent, Arthur's Pass National Park
A South Island Robin I think. It was very friendly, pecking at anything it thought might be food, including our gaiters.
Mt Binser ascent, Arthur's Pass National Park
Ascending through beech on the Binser Saddle Track.
Mt Binser ascent, Arthur's Pass National Park
Above the bushline here, on a steep ascent to the first peak at 1753m. Spear grass making a nice foreground, with the Waimakariri River in the background.
Mt Binser ascent, Arthur's Pass National Park
Looking west. From left to right (roughly): Purple Hill, Lake Pearson, Craigieburn Range, Sugarloaf, Dark Range, Waimakariri River, and various peaks in Arthurs Pass National Park, including Mt Bealey which we had climbed the day before.

Mt Binser ascent, Arthur's Pass National Park

Mt Binser ascent, Arthur's Pass National Park
The rugged western slopes of Mt Binser, with the middle peak and summit (behind) centre left.
Mt Binser ascent, Arthur's Pass National Park
A close up of the Waimakariri Valley from nearby point 1753m.
Mt Binser ascent, Arthur's Pass National Park
Point 1753m, 1831m, and then the summit of Mt Binser at 1860m.
Mt Binser ascent, Arthur's Pass National Park
Sophia just visible on the low point of the ridge leading to the middle peak. She waited for me to catch up before proceeding, as she was intimidated by the steepness of the scree slopes in this section.
Mt Binser ascent, Arthur's Pass National Park
Looking down steep bare slopes to the west.
Mt Binser ascent, Arthur's Pass National Park
Looking out from the rugged western facing slopes.
Mt Binser ascent, Arthur's Pass National Park
The bare rocky slopes dropping steeply from the low peak.

Mt Binser ascent, Arthur's Pass National Park

Mt Binser ascent, Arthur's Pass National Park
Sophia stopping for a rest, rather than posing for this photo, although I think it works as a posed photo.
Mt Binser ascent, Arthur's Pass National Park
The Waimakariri Valley.

Mt Binser ascent, Arthur's Pass National Park

These shots from the summit…

Mt Binser ascent, Arthur's Pass National Park
The Poulter River.
Mt Binser ascent, Arthur's Pass National Park
The Poulter River as it joins the Waimakariri River, coming in from the right. I think that is Chest Peak in the Puketeraki Range on the left.
Mt Binser ascent, Arthur's Pass National Park
A panorama looking east. The Torlessse Range back right, and the Puketeraki Range to the left.
Mt Binser ascent, Arthur's Pass National Park
Peveril Peak to the right, and the Poulter River.
Mt Binser ascent, Arthur's Pass National Park
Looking south-east over the Torlesse Range, Purple Hill, Lake Pearson, Mt Hutt in the far distance, and the Craigieburns.
Mt Binser ascent, Arthur's Pass National Park
A panorama of the Waimakariri Valley from the summit of Mt Binser, 1860m.
Mt Binser ascent, Arthur's Pass National Park
Sophia on the summit of Mt Binser 1860m.

Leaving the summit here…

Mt Binser ascent, Arthur's Pass National Park
Looking back at the red tinged summit. Sophia at bottom.
Mt Binser ascent, Arthur's Pass National Park
Returning to the low peak. Sophia didn’t enjoy this section on the way out, but found it okay on the way back. Familiarity helps a lot.
Mt Binser ascent, Arthur's Pass National Park
Lots of colour and texture in this photo, with the Poulter River to the right, and the low peak (1753m) to the left.
Mt Binser ascent, Arthur's Pass National Park
Returning to the low peak.

Mt Binser ascent, Arthur's Pass National Park Mt Binser ascent, Arthur's Pass National Park

Mt Binser ascent, Arthur's Pass National Park
Looking up at the low peak. It was a fairly steep ridge we had to climb. Sophia standing about a third of the way up.
Mt Binser ascent, Arthur's Pass National Park
Looking back at the middle peak and summit.
Mt Binser ascent, Arthur's Pass National Park
Looking up the Waimakariri Valley in afternoon light.
Mt Binser ascent, Arthur's Pass National Park
Descending back down to the Binser Saddle Track with various unnamed peaks to the north (including one named peak, Brown Hill, 1716m).
Mt Binser ascent, Arthur's Pass National Park
Descending back to the forests edge down shingle slopes and tussock.
Mt Binser ascent, Arthur's Pass National Park
Colourful scree slopes with the Poulter Valley in the distance.
Mt Binser ascent, Arthur's Pass National Park
Misty mountains deeper into Arthur’s Pass National Park.
Mt Binser ascent, Arthur's Pass National Park
Returning down the Binder Saddle Track in pleasant late afternoon light.
Mt Binser ascent, Arthur's Pass National Park
Near the start, the Waimakariri River glinting in the sun.

Track Notes

Mt Binser ascent, Arthur's Pass National Park
On a track as far as Binser Saddle, then a steep climb track off track through beech forest to the bushline, and onward through tussock and scree to the low peak (1753m). It’s then ridge travel on scree and some tussock to the middle peak (1831m), then a short descent to a saddle before arriving at the summit of Mt Binser (1860m).

The start of the Binser Saddle Track is off Mt White Road shortly after a shallow ford. I noticed one car parked just before the ford, so perhaps they didn’t want to take their 2wd car over the stream. In this case you would have to walk over the stream and along a vehicle track  for about 800m to the start.

The route is on a formed track as far as Binser Saddle, then after entering a clearing turn right into the forest at a point of your choosing; we chose a spot right at the end of the clearing. This initial section of forest is dense and will involve maybe 10 minutes of twigs in the face and climbing over dead trees etc. Soon enough the forest thins and travel is easier, but the slope steepens. As you head due south you will probably hear a stream in a gully to your left (east), and you can keep this nearby as you head up towards the bushline. (This will help you find your way back on the way down).

It’s then a steep climb through shingle, tussock and speargrass to the low peak (1753m). The views are great from here on in as you travel along a ridge to the middle peak (1831m), passing a section of narrow ridge flanked by steep scree slopes, and also involving a steep descent and ascent. (Sophia was intimidated by this section, but it was safe enough). Then from the middle peak it’s a short descent to a saddle before arriving at the summit of Mt Binser (1860m).

Return the way you came or you can also descend steeply via a spur to the south-west and then back along the road.

Author: Edward Hathway

I'm a clinical psychologist and keen hiker.

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