Things to do and see
Experience the best of Arthur’s Pass’s diverse alpine vegetation, waterfalls, wetlands, rich history and stunning mountain views on this walk. This walk is part of the Unforgettable Day Walks in New Zealand series.
- Bridal Veil Waterfall
- Historic memorials to Arthur Dobson, Jacks Hut restored roadman’s cottage
- Mountain beech forest with opportunities to spot a kea (NZ alpine parrot)
This walk provides the chance to walk from Arthur’s Pass village to view the Dobson Memorial at Arthur’s Pass summit. The walk has steep steps either side of Bridal Veil Creek. Commence the walk at the Punchbowl, Bealey Chasm (Jacks Hut) or Temple Basin car parks to walk all or part of the track and return the same way.
Distance from Punchbowl car park to Bridal Veil Falls – 20 minutes walk.
From Punchbowl car park it’s a 20 minute walk to the Bridal Veil Falls lookout through subalpine mountain beech forest and Dracophyllum to a small clearing with a picnic table, good views of the falls, surrounding peaks and Arthur’s Pass village. Note the intense red leaves of the Dr Seuss-like Dracophyllum in spring/summer.
Sit, relax and wait for the kea to fly into view as the parrots survey the landscape from wings above. Remember do NOT feed wild birds.
After crossing Bridal Veil Creek, the track takes walkers through alpine lowlying vegetation and bog to Jacks Hut – a restored roadman’s cottage. At Jacks Hut cross SH73 to Bealey Chasm car park and follow the track through mature stands of mountain beech
Listen to bird songs and watch out for forest birds.
You will be following marked signs. At the intersection of Dobson Nature Walk you have two choices.
- Cross the road again to the Temple Basin car park
- Follow the Dobson Nature Walk to the Arthur’s Pass lookout on the summit of the Pass.
Road Summit – highest point for vehicles as they cross the pass into the West Coast.
Dobson Memorial commemorating Arthur Dudley Dobson, the surveyor who gave the English name to Arthur’s Pass. This is the highest point on the road before it drops to the West Coast. Return on the same track.
The main highway is unsafe to walk on and should not be used.
The mountain passes through the Southern Alps were traditional routes for pre-European Mâori to trade pounamu/greenstone from Westland to Canterbury. Arthur Dudley Dobson, government surveyor, documented the pass in 1864. When gold was discovered on the West Coast, the rush to link Christchurch with the West Coast gold fields saw the road built in less than a year, a remarkable feat of pioneer road building in the depths of a bitter winter. Even today the road can be closed due to rock fall, slips or snow.
Source material Arthur’s Pass Walking Track.
- Length: 6.5 km
- Start/Finish: Punchbowl carpark / Arthur’s Pass village
Department of Conservation guidelines
Be safe and beware – this is mountain country
- Take warm clothing and raincoat, sunhat and sunscreen, something to eat and drink and strong footwear.
- Mountain weather can change quickly. Check the Arthurs Pass National Park weather forecast – NIWA website (external site).
- Walking on tracks and routes above the bushline (the upper edge of the forest) is recommended only in good weather conditions.
Your safety is your responsibility. Stay safe in the outdoors by following the Land Safety Code.
Tell someone your plans, including when to raise the alarm if you haven’t returned, by using the Outdoors Intentions form
Are you fascinated with the story of the construction of the high altitude road through the Southern Alps…
Jacks Hut is a rare surviving example of a roadman’s cottage. Built in 1879, the hut is located on New Zealand’s highest altitude main highway. It was restored in 2004.
All early highways were maintained by roadmen who lived with their families in cottages placed along the section they were responsible for. As the motor age and mechanisation arrived, the roadman role disappeared. Learn more Historic Arthur’s Pass: Arthur’s Pass National Park, Canterbury.
KEA NEW ZEALAND ALPINE PARROT
Look out for the kea – alpine parrots famous for their inquisitive nature. The endangered great spotted kiwi/roroa – the ‘mountaineer’ of kiwi – are also found in the park along with more common forest birds like bellbirds/koromiko and fantails/pîwakawaka.