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.

Mt Cassidy - Blimit Traverse, 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.

The Cons Track is steep and potentially slippery, there’s some navigation required once above the bushline, and the scramble to Blimit is quite long on the notoriously loose “weetbix” rock of the area. (More substantial snow cover could make this a bit easier).  Nevertheless, we are not mountaineers and found it all pretty straightforward, although this was in ideal conditions. More info in my track notes at the end.

(And as an aside, the constructed and mostly flat Arthur’s Pass Walking Track looks to be very nice, but it was already dark when we got there so no pictures I’m afraid. We might return to do this as a ‘leg-stretcher’ one day.)

Mt Cassidy – Blimit Traverse: The Scenery

Mt Cassidy - Blimit Traverse, Arthur's Pass
Really attractive forest all the way up.

Mt Cassidy - Blimit Traverse, Arthur's Pass Mt Cassidy - Blimit Traverse, Arthur's Pass

Mt Cassidy - Blimit Traverse, Arthur's Pass
That plant on the left makes me think of the West Coast.

Mt Cassidy - Blimit Traverse, Arthur's Pass Mt Cassidy - Blimit Traverse, Arthur's Pass Mt Cassidy - Blimit Traverse, Arthur's Pass

Mt Cassidy - Blimit Traverse, Arthur's Pass
Extra moss and lichen in this area.

Mt Cassidy - Blimit Traverse, Arthur's Pass

Mt Cassidy - Blimit Traverse, Arthur's Pass
Interesting fungus. I see a koala face in this scene.

Mt Cassidy - Blimit Traverse, Arthur's Pass

Mt Cassidy - Blimit Traverse, Arthur's Pass
Early morning light looking west up the valley.
Mt Cassidy - Blimit Traverse, Arthur's Pass
Sophia backed by the Bealey Valley and Mt Rolleston.
Mt Cassidy - Blimit Traverse, Arthur's Pass
Mt Aicken across there somewhere.
Mt Cassidy - Blimit Traverse, Arthur's Pass
There was some boulder hopping required as we ascended the ridge.
Mt Cassidy - Blimit Traverse, Arthur's Pass
First big panorama of the day.
Mt Cassidy - Blimit Traverse, Arthur's Pass
I liked this shot of Sophia on the ridge. One of those with a sense of scale.
Mt Cassidy - Blimit Traverse, Arthur's Pass
The head of Punchbowl Creek. Mt Cassidy to the left, and Blimit centre left.
Mt Cassidy - Blimit Traverse, Arthur's Pass
Blimit from Mt Cassidy.
Mt Cassidy - Blimit Traverse, Arthur's Pass
Sophia on the summit of Mt Cassidy, backed by Phipps Peak, Mt Temple, and Blimit, our next stop.
Mt Cassidy - Blimit Traverse, Arthur's Pass
Sophia on Mt Cassidy (1850m), backed by Mt Rolleston.
Mt Cassidy - Blimit Traverse, Arthur's Pass
A panorama north-east.
Mt Cassidy - Blimit Traverse, Arthur's Pass
Looking west.
Mt Cassidy - Blimit Traverse, Arthur's Pass
Descending from Mt Cassidy to the saddle.
Mt Cassidy - Blimit Traverse, Arthur's Pass
We are scrambling up to Blimit here. It was a long scramble.

Mt Cassidy - Blimit Traverse, Arthur's Pass

Mt Cassidy - Blimit Traverse, Arthur's Pass
Mt Franklin (2145m) centre left, and probably Mt Oates (2041m) to the right.
Mt Cassidy - Blimit Traverse, Arthur's Pass
A panorama east.
Mt Cassidy - Blimit Traverse, Arthur's Pass
A panorama north-east.
Mt Cassidy - Blimit Traverse, Arthur's Pass
A panorama south-west.
Mt Cassidy - Blimit Traverse, Arthur's Pass
Sophia on the summit of Blimit (1921m)
Mt Cassidy - Blimit Traverse, Arthur's Pass
Mt Franklin was looking pretty awesome.
Mt Cassidy - Blimit Traverse, Arthur's Pass
Looking down Punchbowl Creek.
Mt Cassidy - Blimit Traverse, Arthur's Pass
Sophia on Blimit, with Phipps Peak and Mt Temple to the right. You can also see a cloud inversion over on the West Coast.
Mt Cassidy - Blimit Traverse, Arthur's Pass
Mt Franklin
Mt Cassidy - Blimit Traverse, Arthur's Pass
Our return route was through this basin with two frozen tarns.
Mt Cassidy - Blimit Traverse, Arthur's Pass
Sophia descending from Blimit.
Mt Cassidy - Blimit Traverse, Arthur's Pass
Mt Rolleston in the background.
Mt Cassidy - Blimit Traverse, Arthur's Pass
We passed by the big tarn. It was all very picturesque.
Mt Cassidy - Blimit Traverse, Arthur's Pass
The little tarn.
Mt Cassidy - Blimit Traverse, Arthur's Pass
Sophia with Mt Rolleston looming behind.
Mt Cassidy - Blimit Traverse, Arthur's Pass
Phipps Peak and Mt Temple before we began our descent from the tops.
Mt Cassidy - Blimit Traverse, Arthur's Pass
The Temple Basin ski lodges.
Mt Cassidy - Blimit Traverse, Arthur's Pass
Looking up Twin Creek from a bridge over the creek. We had actually gone passed the main track here, so we backtracked to find our way down.
Mt Cassidy - Blimit Traverse, Arthur's Pass
We were descending down the Temple Basin Track in twilight when I looked back up and saw this scene. I don’t own a tripod, so this, like all my shots, is handheld. I should have been a surgeon.

Track Notes

Mt Cassidy - Blimit Traverse, Arthur's Pass
Start at the Devil’s Punchbowl Car Park. It’s up steeply through beech forest on the Cons Track, which starts just after the first bridge on the way to Devils Punchbowl Falls. From above the bushline you make your way to the left around bluffs, then along the ridge to Mt Cassidy, then a scramble to Blimit. Drop down to a basin and then to the Temple Basin ski fields, picking up a track which will take you down to the highway. From there you can take the Arthur’s Pass Walking Track back to your car.
Mt Cassidy - Blimit Traverse, Arthur's Pass
We stopped in at the DOC visitor centre in Arthur’s Pass and they talked us through the walk, using this photo as a guide.
To Mt Cassidy and Blimit

Start at the Devil’s Punchbowl Car Park. It’s firstly a steep ascent through beech forest on the Cons Track, which starts after the first bridge on the way to Devils Punchbowl Falls. From above the bushline you make your way to the left around bluffs following orange tipped poles, then steeply up a chute, and along the ridge to Mt Cassidy.

Mt Cassidy - Blimit Traverse, Arthur's Pass
We were walking around the bluffs here.

 

Mt Cassidy - Blimit Traverse, Arthur's Pass
We emerged from the chute to easier walking along the ridge. You can see the orange marker centre-right which you should look for if you are descending this way.

Keep to the highway side of the ridge especially in snowy/ icy conditions, as you don’t want to slip hundreds of vertical metres into Devils Punchbowl Creek. From Mt Cassidy it’s then a sometimes tricky scramble up to Blimit on loose rock. 

Return from Blimit

From Blimit, back track until you feel comfortable descending to the basin on scree or snow. Walk past the big tarn, head to the left a bit and drop down from the ridge to meet a track before Page Shelter. Take this track (left) down to the main ski buildings, and from there descend to the highway on the constructed Temple Basin Track. Cross the highway and just a little way towards Arthur’s Pass Village you can drop down through a few metres of forest to meet the Arthur’s Pass Walking Track, which takes you back to your car.

Note that you could turn back at Mt Cassidy to make it a shorter walk, (but expect a steep descent), or do the circuit missing out Blimit. 

Allocate a full day for this walk, especially with all of the photos you’ll take 😉 

Author: Edward Hathway

I'm a clinical psychologist and keen hiker.

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