Story from New Zealand #5 Hiking up Avalanche Peak, 1833 m.

One of my favorite day hike in New Zealand is  Avalanche Peak in Arthur’s Pass national park. It has everything one could ask for : it’s easy to get to as it starts in the village, it’s challenging enough (pretty steep) but not technically difficult, and it’s a loop which makes it less boring than coming down the same way.
Most people climb up to the summit via Avalanche Peak track and down Scotts track for a reason. Scotts track is a bit longer but not as steep so a bit easier on the knees while walking down.
We got up reasonably early that morning, ready to head off but got a bit delayed by the low temperatures and the thick fog that was covering the village. We double checked the weather forecast and as it was still good we decided to hike up and see what happens past the tree line. After a long while, we got there and found the sun.

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Once above the clouds the sun always shines!

Going up is long (about 1000m ascent) but pretty straight forward and the views gradually become more and more stunning as numerous snowy peaks and glaciers start to make an appearance.

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Looking back down the valley

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Going up through tussock ans subalpine vegetation

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Looking back across the valley

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Last ridge to the summit, 80m bluff on both side!

After about 4 hours of steady uphill climbing, there comes the summit that actually can’t be seen from the village. The views are amazing. Mount Rolleston (2271m) stands proudly with Crow glacier snuggled by its side.

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Admiring Mount Rolleston from the Avalanche Peak summit…Wondering how the views are from there…

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Close up on Mount Rolleston and Crow glacier

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And going back down again

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Beautiful valley!

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Flowers on rocks

Going down took a couple of hours and wasn’t that fun as the track is pretty long. Walking down through the forest was awesome though with birds flying around.

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Beautiful walk down through beech forest

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Cute little bird

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Beautiful New Zealand fantail bird

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New Zealand fantail bird from above

Stories from New Zealand #4 – Arthur’s Pass via Lake Pearson

What comes into your mind when you think about New Zealand?

Lord of the Rings? Yes ok fair enough.

Sheep? Yep, that too, they are absolutely everywhere.

Funny ‘acceent’? Yes, that’s pretty cute.

Mountains? Yes! Nature which as you already know is pretty unbelievable here.

I spent a lot of time day dreaming about New Zealand mountains before coming down here. It is when I first drive from Christchurch towards the West coast on my way to Arthur’s Pass that I really experience those jaw dropping kind of landscape.

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Railway linking the west to the east coast

Arthur’s Pass became the first national park of the south island in 1929 but has been a key route a long time before Europeans got there. Maori used to travel west that way in search of the valued pounamu (green stone used for many things such as weapons or jewellery).  In 1864, Europeans discovered gold hidden around there so it suddenly became an emergency to build a road for coaches to cross over (one of those old coach can be seen at the DOC office there). the First European to go through the pass with his brother was called Arthur, thus the name of the village.

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Arthur’s Pass from above

Camping around or just stopping for coffee, you will eventually meet an inquisitive visitor.

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kea, a native parrot

Keas are one the ten endemic parrot species in the south island and are not to be found anywhere else in the world. They are considered very smart and their curiosity will encourage them to approach people which ironically represent a threat. What do people do when an animal comes to them? They look for things to feed then, which is pretty much the worst you could do. As a matter of fact, baby keas are taught to look for food by older experienced keas. Obviously that is very important for them to know where and how to find food in their rough alpine home otherwise they will die.

Their sometimes intrusive behaviors have led to a certain unpopularity as people happened to get their keys stolen, unattended backpack or tent inspected or even their car a tiny bit  damaged. Nothing ever happened to me except for a tent lightly shaken one morning. I like knowing they are around and listening to their peculiar sound while hiking.

There are numerous day trips directly from the village and even more in the area. There are also a few really nice DOC campsites (standard and basic). My favorite was about half an hour from Arthur’s pass, a free campsite on lake Pearson, gorgeous little spot.

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Admiring the scenery and enjoying the hot weather

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Lake Pearson on a fine day

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A rather fine campsite!

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Reflection on lake Pearson

Here are a few photos of my favorite day hikes before a longer story about the one that should not be missed.

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Hut at the end of the Temple Basin track

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Amazing views over Mount Rolleston (2275m) from the hut

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Beautiful Devils punchbowl 131m high waterfall