Hike the Avalanche Peak - Crow River Valley Traverse

Rate this Adventure Punchbowl Road, Arthur's Pass, New Zealand

  • Activities:

    Photography, Backpacking, Hiking

  • Skill Level:


  • Season:

    Summer, Autumn

  • Trail Type:


  • RT Distance:

    2.3 Miles

  • Elevation Gain:

    -2624.7 Feet


After a great morning ascending the popular Avalanche Peak, make your afternoon even better by descending the lesser-traveled backside into the Crow Valley. Five star ridge views of glaciated Mt. Rolleston, one long scree slope down, and a beautiful river valley hut at the end makes this overnighter worth every effort.

The beginning starts with the popular day hike climb up Avalanche Peak in Arthur’s Pass, NZ. You can view that route on the Outbound here. Scott’s Track up is a bit longer but less steep and with better views so I’d recommend taking that up. Should only take around 2-3 hours, but you’ll want to start as early as you can in the morning so there’s no rush for the next piece and you avoid any afternoon weather.

After summiting, the way into the Crow River Valley runs along a narrow ridge heading towards the unmistakable glaciated face of Mt. Rolleston to the north. However, the way down from Avalanche Peak’s summit starts counterintuitively: you first pick your way down the scree slope on the south side to about 200m below the summit. From here, carry below the western face of the summit headed north to a clear saddle where the view of Mt. Rolleston and ridgeline opens up again. People have done this before, so there will probably be faint tracks leading to the saddle. Bring a hiking pole, it makes things a lot easier.

From the saddle you will continue to slide down the eastern face of the ridge through some tussock slope and onto the main ridge which undulates all the way toward Mt. Rolleston. Follow the ridge and do not descend the western side into the Crow Valley until:

1) You reach the yellow-capped alpine pole and cairn marking the start of the shingle-scree descent.

2) You can see the full length of Devil’s Punchbowl Falls across the valley.

3) You can see all the way down the scree into the Crow Valley below.

4) The ridge steeply ascends before you.

You must not attempt to descend into the Crow Valley at a different point as there are bluffs in the scree and it is impassible. It also may be impossible to come back up once you begin to go down. The good news is these four signs are very obvious and it is clear where to descend – in good weather. The distance from Avalanche Peak to this point is about 1.5km (~1 hour). You can run the scree down, but it is pretty stiff and exhausting work down to the Crow Valley, taking 1.5-2 hours. Beware of rock falls and do not dislodge lose rock onto those below you.

After descending into the Crow River Valley it’s about 20 minutes to the Crow Hut along the true right of the river at the edge of the forest. The Crow Hut is in an amazing location and has 10 bunks. From here, it’s about 4-5 hours to Klondyke Corner or you can continue on up the Waimakariri River Valley to other adventures deeper in Arthur’s Pass such as the Barker Hut.

Here is DOC webpage for the route.

This is also good with a nice marked topo map and pictures.

This claims that from the Crow Hut you can access Mt. Guinevere and Mt. Lancelot. Sounds fun!

Pack List

  • Backpack
  • Rain gear (but you should not attempt in bad weather)
  • Camera
  • Food for at least two days
  • Sturdy shoes (and maybe gaiters for the scree)
  • Hiking pole
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Kyle Obermann Explorer

China Environmental and Adventure Photographer || 探险中国 || Speak Chinese to Protect Nature @kyleobermann

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