Hike up Avalanche Peak
New Zealand › Devils Punchbowl Trailhead
Added by Justin Dong
This is a scenic day hike/scramble in Arthur's Pass National Park that gets you to the top of a peak in the heart of New Zealand's Southern Alps. It's about a two hour drive from Christchurch.
There are actually two trails leading up to the summit: the Avalanche Peak Track and Scott's Track. The former begins at the Arthur's Pass Visitor Centre while the latter begins down the main road, across from the Devil's Punchbowl Falls (less than 1 km south of the visitor centre). Both trails begin steeply through dense forest and don't allow for many views early on. The trails are rugged at times, but well-defined and well-maintained.
Above the treeline, the trails are marked by colored metal poles (yellow for the Avalanche Peak Track and orange for Scott's Track). Above the treeline, the trail is designated as a "route" by the national park, meaning that its less defined, rougher, and steeper. On a clear day, navigation is easy, but if visibility is poor, it is suggested to turn back unless you have excellent navigation skills and prior knowledge of the route. Scott's Track traverses a rugged ridge to the summit with a sheer cliff face to the right, while the Avalanche Peak Track is a bit steeper.
From the treeline to summit, it is an easy scramble. Follow the route markers and don't go off trail as there are steep drop-offs. From the summit, you will have access to panoramic views of the surrounding alps on all sides, including Mount Rolleston and Mount Bealy. In early summer, expect snow to linger above the treeline. Generally, the snow patches are small and don't require any technical navigation, but do exercise caution.
Both trails rise approximately, 1050 meters (3500 ft) in 5 km (3.1 mi) and are definitely thigh burners. Be sure to bring enough water with you; if you have a filter, there are some small streams intersecting the trail, but their availability is seasonal. It is best to inquire at the visitor centre about water sources on the trail, as the rangers there will have up-to-date info.
Lastly, the Avalanche Peak Track and Scott's Track can be combined to form a loop, beginning at the visitor centre and ending at the Scott's Track trailhead just down the road.
- Hiking boots/shoes
- Day pack
- Food and water
- Water filter (optional)
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Good Views, Take Scott's Track down
The views on top are pretty good, and it makes a great introductory hike to NZ tramping. The last 100m-200m to the summit are quite intimidating with some very narrow parts and drop offs that would not be good for an inexperienced hiker afraid of heights . Don't think of attempting in bad weather. If you have another day and more experience, consider descending that back side and connecting this with the Crow Valley. Since Scott's track is less steep, I'd suggest taking it down so it's easier on the knees. The views are better as well.
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