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Arthur’s Pass and the Eastern Canterbury Ranges

The Mountain ranges of Arthur’s Pass National Park are the most accessible in New Zealand, being located aside the main road/rail corridor traversing the Southern Alps between Christchurch and the West Coast. Terrain within the park varies considerably from low scree hills to heavily glaciated peaks and steep face routes.

Arthur’s Pass

In Arthur’s Pass National Park itself, in the tributaries of the Poulter River there are many low mountains, up to 1800m, which are scrambles over rock and scree.

The Polar Range has mountains between 1840m and 1990m which can be readily climbed from the Edwards valley.

Mt Oates (2101m) is climbed from either the Edwards valley or the Mingha valley via tussock and easy rock.

Mt Franklin (2088m) is an impressive peak accessible from the Deception valley.

Climbs from Arthur’s Pass township in summer are mainly scree and broken rock ridges, with snow only on the higher peaks. In winter excellent snow and ice climbs are available at every standard. Phipps Pk(1984m) and Mt Temple (1892m) have short routes of varying difficulty, on rock in summer and snow in winter. Mt Phillistine (1950m) is a straightforward climb from the Otira valley.

Mt Rolleston is the outstanding peak of the area, with many routes from four different valleys. The easiest routes take shingle slides from the Bealey or Otira valleys to the Low Peak (2200m), with a traverse to the High Peak (2270m).

The Jellicoe Ridge has interesting rock scrambling over peaks up to about 2100m.

From the upper Waimakariri valley Mt Rolleston, Mt Armstrong (2103m) and Carrington Pk are readily climbed.

Barker Hut, in the White valley, is well placed for Mt Murchison (2399m), the highest mountain in the Arthur’s Pass area, and Mt Davie (2294m), both on the Shaler Range. Mt Speight (2120m) and Mt Harper(2240m), on the Black Range, are also accessible.

Mt Greenlaw (2294m) is usually climbed from lower tributaries of the Waimakariri.

Guidebook

Arthur’s Pass: A Guide for Mountaineers (NZAC, 2004), by Graeme Kates

Other resources

Arthur’s Pass National Park on the Department of Conservation website

Arthur’s Pass Region Information website

Maps

Topo50 series

BV20 Otira

BV21 Cass

More about Topo50 maps.

Maps can be purchased from Mapworld who offer NZAC members a 10% discount.

Accommodation

Arthurs Pass Lodge, on School Terrace in the Township

Eastern Canterbury Ranges

In summer the eastern Canterbury ranges comprise scree and broken rock, with no permanent snow; in winter they are snow and ice climbs suitable for beginning climbers. There is fine winter ski touring terrain.

The Craigeburn Range includes many peaks between 1900m and 2200m, and five ski fields.

The Torlesse Range is readily accessible from various points.

Further south, the Mt Hutt and Old Man Ranges are high but easy ranges with good skiing opportunities.

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