In the heart of New Zealand’s Southern Alps, Arthur’s Pass National Park is a sprawling landscape marked by soaring mountains, lush valleys, and powerful rivers. It offers adventurous visitors of all levels varied hiking tracks, open ski fields, and remarkable natural wonders such as forests, caves, waterfalls, glaciers, and more. The Basics
The main attraction in Arthur’s Pass National Park is its many hiking trails, ranging from the family-friendly Arthur’s Pass Walking Track to the formidable multi-day Mingha-Deception and Three Passes tracks. Most offer grand views of forests, valleys, rivers, waterfalls, and more. You can also take a mountain-bike ride, go skiing or snowboarding, or climb Mount Rolleston. For history buffs, a Cobb & Co. stagecoach and the newly restored Jacks Hut offer a glimpse back to a time of gold rushes and dangerous road building.
Many full-day or multi-day tours explore Arthur’s Pass from Christchurch, and include a ride on the TranzAlpine railway as well as hotel pickup and drop-off. Things to Know Before You Go
How to Get There
- Arthur’s Pass National Park is ideal for outdoors lovers and adventure seekers.
- The visitor center in Arthur’s Pass village offers track conditions and more details about the region.
- There are plenty of motels, homestays, and cabins in the village, plus huts and campsites in the park. Book in advance, especially in summer.
- Many of the park’s walks aren’t well developed, so be prepared for changing weather conditions, unsafe river crossings, etc.
Arthur’s Pass National Park is 95 miles (150 kilometers) from Christchurch along State Highway 73; set out early in the morning to make it to the visitor center by lunchtime. If you’re coming from the West Coast, you can catch a bus from Greymouth or Hokitika. The daily TranzAlpine Express train from Christchurch to Greymouth and back also stops at Arthur’s Pass. When to Get There
The park is open year-round. If you plan to do some tramping, the park is safest, warmest, and most picturesque around summer; for skiing and snowboarding, visit during winter. Bear in mind, though, that the weather at Arthur’s Pass is notorious for changing without warning—even if you’re hiking in the height of summer, be prepared for wet and windy weather. A Bird-Watcher’s Paradise
Bird-watchers and more casual fans of New Zealand’s wildlife will have a field day at Arthur’s Pass, which is home to New Zealand’s alpine parrot, the kea, and the endangered great spotted kiwi—a nocturnal bird with a preference for higher altitudes. Fantails, morepork, kaka, and rock wrens (piwauwau) are among the park’s more common residents.