Welcome to a different world of rock, ice and snow, and a place where delicate mountain daisies grow.

Arthur’s Pass township, is in the heart of the Arthur’s Pass National Park. The town’s 920 metre elevation makes this alpine world accessible to the keen tramper. The park straddles the main divide of the Southern Alps and lies on both sides of the Christchurch/West Coast highway. The tramping tracks open up views of soaring peaks, endless ridgelines and alpine herb fields. They attract visitors from all over the world. Several of the towering snow-capped peaks above the township can be climbed in a day.

Stroll down to the Arthur’s Pass visitor centre and get acquainted with this diverse and spectacular park. Brochures outlining a range of day walks from 1 to 8 hours, include the impressive Devil’s Punchbowl Falls, Upper Bealey Valley Track and the Temple Basin with its fields of alpine flowers and fine views of Mt Rolleston. Multi-day tramping trips using alpine huts provide access to outstanding terrain over the Goat, Harman or Harpers passes.

The sub-alpine forest is fascinating as the trees are generously draped with mosses, lichens and liverworts. There is a striking contrast between the forests within the park. The higher rainfall on the West Coast side of the main divide supports more complex podocarp forest, while the east is almost exclusively mountain beech. The park is characterised by wide braided rivers such as the Waimakariri to the south and the Otira and Taramakau to the north.

Keep an eye on the mischievous alpine parrot called the kea. It delights in wreaking havoc by pecking at tramper’s packs and equipment with its powerful beak. Listen out for the sweet notes of the bellbird and the night call of the kiwi.

Scale the wild, untamed heights of Arthur’s Pass National Park, and you will capture the true essence of New Zealand’s wonderful Southern Alps.

National Parks: Character, Features, Wildlife & Hikes

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