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Arthur’s Pass


Amy and I arrive in Arthur’s Pass – approximately the midpoint between Greymouth and Christchurch – in the early evening and make arrangements for lodging. Since there is some light left in the day, we decide to find a trail and hike.


I mark a waypoint in my GPS for the cabin – just in case – and we find the Avalanche Peak route which starts approximately 100 meters from our cabin. At the start of the trail, a sign warns us that the route is treacherous and there are avalanches there in the winter. This being summer in the Southern hemisphere, we adventure forward. The path gets steep fast and about 50 meters later we find another sign warning us that the trail is difficult and requires food, water, rain protection, boots, hat, etc., with a picture of such a hiker standing in a Captain Morgan pose with boot situated squarely on a sturdy stone beneath him. I imagine a sort of twisted amusement park sign with the caption, “You must be this studly to ride.”


Amy and I push forward fearlessly and immediately the trail gets very steep. We are regularly climbing up 3, 4, and 6 foot rock faces between bouts of switchbacks. I believe this would be categorized as a Yosemite decimal system level 3 which can be summarized as passable without rope and if you fall you will probably survive.

The occasional vistas are astounding and a water fall runs alongside the trail for much of the first part of the trail giving splendid views as we occasionally catch our breath.

This tramp is exactly the challenge I have been seeking in my hikes in New Zealand all along and had just not been finding. This ascent literally makes my entire trip.


We stop short of the bush line and rest. From the readings on the GPS we moved laterally approximately 600 meters and vertically a bit over 400 meters from the cabin. Since the first 150 meters of the trip were mostly flat, this means the trail itself averaged an almost 45 degree ascent.

The next morning I begin a 48 hour process of getting out of New Zealand via Bus, stop in Christchurch, airplane, stop in Aukland, airplane, stop in Sydney, and finally a 14 hour plane ride to SFO. Ask me about the stop in Sydney next time you see me — I met a fascinating Swedish woman.

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