Avalanche Peak

Avalanche Peak is located next to Arthur’s Pass township in the Southern Alps. The DOC website describes the walk to the top as an “an extremely steep and rocky journey to the top of an 1833-metre peak”. However, if you prepare well and take notice of the weather, it should be an enjoyable experience. At the top you are rewarded with views of Mt Rolleston and other surrounding mountains of the Southern Alps.

List Status Official
Elevation 1,833 m (6,014 ft)
Location/List South Island, New Zealand
Region Canterbury
Location Coordinates 42° 56′ 35″ S, 171° 32′ 9″ E
Nearest Town/s Arthur’s Pass
Range Southern Alps
Geology Sedimentary
Recommended Route
Duration Help.gif 6-8 hours (return)
Distance 6.2 km (3.9 mi)
Start/End Points Scott’s Track: SH 73, 1 km north of the Arthur’s Pass visitor’s centre; Avalanche Peak Track: behind the visitors centre
Difficulty Help.gif Hard
Track conditions Help.gif Track, Marked Route, Steep embankments, Scree/Scoria, Rocky surface
Season Help.gif Summer, autumn
Sights Views , Views of the Southern Alps
Hazards Alpine weather , scree slope, snow/ice in winter, wind, sheer drops

Getting There

By Car

From Christchurch take State Highway 73 north-west to Arthur’s Pass township. The walk can be attempted from two locations – Avalanche Peak Track, behind the visitors centre or Scott’s Track, 1 km north of the visitor’s centre.
Public Transport

Arthur’s Pass can also be reached by taking the scenic TranzAlpine train. Arthur’s Pass village itself is tiny, so there is no need for local transport once you get there.

Google Earth Map

NZ Topographic Map

Our Recommended Route

There are two main ways that Avalanche Peak can be attempted – by doing a round trip, or by doing a return trip (walking up and down the same way).

Return Trip via Scott’s Track

DOC recommend if you want to do a return trip that the easiest way to go is via Scott’s Track as this track is less steep than the Avalanche Peak Track. The walk starts about 1 km north of Arthur’s Pass township and is signposted on the main road opposite Devils Punchbowl Falls.

The track travels through forest to the bushline which takes about 1 hr 30 mins. From the bush line, orange stakes mark the route towards the summit. DOC recommends that you take care to follow the markers, as off the track it is steep and dangerous. Also you should take note of the weather as the track becomes dangerous in poor visibility and windy conditions. Turn back if the weather looks bad, or you are in doubt.

Round Trip via Avalanche Peak Track and Scott’s Track

Start the round trip from the Avalanche Peak Track. The Avalanche Peak Track starts behind the visitors centre at Arthur’s Pass township. The Avalanche Peak Track can be steep in places (causing you to scramble up rocks and hold on to tree roots) and exposed near the top with steep drops. Follow the track through beech forest up to the bushline (1.5 – 2 hours). Then follow the yellow poles, until you meet up with Scott’s Track (orange poles). Continue following the markers (yellow and orange) to the top of Avalanche Peak (if the weather allows). The walk from the bushline to the peak should take 2.5 – 2 hours. Descend for a short time via the way you came, then branch off at Scott’s Track which you will follow down. When you reach the main road, follow the road back to Arthur’s Pass township.
The DOC website provides a good description of the Avalanche Peak summit walks.

Route Options

A variety of different walking options exist in and around Arthur’s Pass, ranging from short walks through to multi- day tramps. The DOC website outlines the different options available.


Avalanche Peak is not a climb to be taken lightly. People have died on this route and in winter and spring the area is prone to avalanches. The walk is very steep and exposed and dangerous in bad weather. Take sensible precautions, and definitely do not become obsessed with reaching the summit no matter what!

Height Profile

Avalanche Peak-2d.jpg