Avalanche Peak, Arthur’s Pass

Understandably one of the most popular, if challenging, day walks from Arthur’s Pass. Heading up to the 1,833m high Avalanche Peak involves a steep 1,300m ascent and descent, worth it for the views on a good day, not worth it in poor weather, particularly on the tricky final stretch.

There are two tracks to the summit, forming a 7km and 6-8 hour loop. Avalanche Peak Track is the steeper and less open of the two, making it a good choice to head up, and then come down the less steep and more open Scotts Track to enjoy the views of Arthur’s Pass below. The Avalanche Peak Track starts behind the DOC Visitor Centre with a pleasant waterfall.

It’s then a relentlessly uphill walk, at times scramble, up to the bush line.

Which is less than half way up, though the views really kick in from here. As did the cloud which I was concerned would beat me to the summit.

Thankfully it didn’t though, clearing nicely to a brilliant blue sky, windless day, perfect conditions from a morning wander.

Avalanche Peak Track is marked with yellow poles, which near the summit merge into the orange poles of Scotts Track. From here it’s an increasingly narrow, rocky and quite scary final stretch to the top, fine today, not advisable in bad weather.

Everywhere you look is rock and mountains, quite a spot for some lunch before the hoards arrived as I left about 11am. Looking back from Scotts Track gave a better view of the path to the summit.


Scotts Track was certainly easier to descend than Avalanche Peak Track would have been, though the view was a little distracting…

In the distance I could see a party of three heading along the unmarked ridge to descend down to Crow Hut, not something for the fainthearted or inexperienced.

Across the valley the 112m Devil’s Punchbowl Falls were clear.

Just below the bush line is one of my favourite areas, with lichen covered trees and broken sunlight.

Near the end of the track the layout and small size of Arthur’s Pass, home to just 90 permanent inhabitants, became clear.

Author: jontycrane

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