Mt O’Malley ascent, Arthur’s Pass National Park NZ
Excellent views, a lovely tarn, and a bit of adventure as you make your way through rocky terrain to Mt O’Malley (1703m) in Arthur’s Pass National Park.
Mt O’Malley (1703m) is the lesser known neighbour of Mt Aicken, but you don’t compromise on scenery by visiting this peak. You take the same Mt Aicken Track through beech forest to the bushline. From there you soon veer south-east, travelling on tussock grass at first, but then moving into very rocky terrain. There are rocky ridges and basins to cross, with a very picturesque tarn one of the highlights of the walk. The views from the summit are spectacular and top off yet another excellent walk in Arthur’s Pass National Park.
There’s a bit more navigation required than for Mt Aicken, but the distance is similar, and experienced walkers shouldn’t be too challenged. See my track notes at the end for guidance.
Mt O’Malley ascent: The Scenery
On the summit…
Leaving the summit…
This walk starts at the Devils Punchbowl Track car park just off the highway near Arthur’s Pass Village (see the embedded map at the bottom). You walk towards Devils Punchbowl Falls, turning right onto the Mt Aicken Track about half way along. Climb steeply to above the treeline. From there you can climb on this same route for a while (there are a few extra orange markers after the sign that says the marked route has ended). But before long veer south-east and climb to the crest of a ridge (of sorts). From there navigation is a little trickier but see the photo below for guidance. You have to make your way up onto the next ridge.
You get your first views of the tarn form up on that ridge, and you might like to take some time to enjoy the views and take a few photos. From the ridge drop down into a basin and then sidle across the hill to join the ridge to the summit of Mt O’Malley. Return the way you came. It should take about 6-7 hours plus time for lunch and photos.
If you want extra guidance, or an alternate (slightly sketchy) route back, have a look at the Hiking is Good blog by Michal (who I met on Mt Philistine one day).