Explore the South: Arthur's Pass

Photography by: Getty, Raquel Smith, ChristchurchNZ, Stephen Goodenough


Arthur s Pass 1 Arthur s Pass 1
Arthur s Pass 2 The view of the waterfall at the top of the Devil’s Punchbowl track Arthur s Pass 2
Arthur s Pass 3 The keas are very friendly Arthur s Pass 3
Arthur s Pass 4 The Millennium Walk waterfall Arthur s Pass 4
Arthur s Pass 5 Arthur s Pass 5

Christchurch is central to many of the South Island’s most amazing destinations, Arthur’s Pass is around two hours’ drive from the Garden City

The drive from Christchurch to the tiny alpine town of Arthur’s Pass offers some of the most stunning scenery in the country. As you leave the vast plains of Canterbury, you’ll soon be marvelling at the snow-capped Southern Alps, and the deep blue waters of the Waimakariri River.

Be prepared for numerous photo stops! If you’re travelling at this time of year, it’s wise to check the weather forecast, and ensure you’re well prepared for winter driving. If you’d prefer to let someone else do the driving and really enjoy the scenery, hopping aboard the TranzAlpine is an excellent option.

The train continues through to Greymouth, so you can stay on board and enjoy a full day train trip, or hop off at Arthur’s Pass and explore, before boarding again later in the day and heading back to Christchurch.

At Arthur’s Pass, there are some short walk options, including the Devil’s Punchbowl track, which takes around an hour return. It’s a challenging walk up and down many steps, but worth it to view the incredible 131-metre waterfall at the top.

For a slightly easier track, the Bridal Veil Walk is around 40 minutes return and will take you through a beech forest and to a lookout with a view of the Bridal Veil waterfall.

Or for a really quick stroll, The Millennium Walk is just 10 minutes return from the Visitor Centre and also has a lovely waterfall. The area is also well-known for its friendly keas.

You stand a good chance of spotting several of these cheeky parrots, who are constantly on the lookout for leftover lunches. Don’t be tempted to feed them though; they can become very ill on sandwiches and other scraps.

The village is very small, but there are a couple of nice cafes to check out if you want to warm up and have a coffee, as well as art and craft stores. While there are no powered campsites or dump stations in the village, there are a couple of non-powered overnight sites if you wish to stay over.

150km – around two hours’ drive

Stop on the way

  • The ‘Springfield Donut’ in Springfield – a great photo opportunity, especially for fans of The Simpsons
  • The town of Cass – home to the iconic red railway station, another great photo opportunity

 

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