Arthur's Pass National Park Travel Guide

Discover the stunning natural beauty, outdoor adventures, cultural attractions, and local cuisine of Arthur's Pass National Park in New Zealand. Plan your trip with our comprehensive travel guide.

Introduction to Arthur’s Pass National Park

Arthur’s Pass National Park is a vast wilderness area situated in the heart of New Zealand’s Southern Alps on the South Island. It is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers, offering stunning scenic vistas, diverse flora and fauna, and plenty of exciting activities.

Named after the legendary explorer Arthur Dudley Dobson, who mapped a mountain pass through the park in 1864, Arthur’s Pass National Park is a popular destination for hiking, skiing, mountaineering, and wildlife watching. The park covers over 1,000 square kilometers and is home to numerous rare and endangered species, including the great spotted kiwi, the kea, and the South Island kākā.

List of Places to Visit in Arthur’s Pass National Park

Culturally Important Attractions: Museums and Historical Places

  • Arthur’s Pass Visitor Centre: A great way to start your visit to the park, the visitor center has interactive exhibits, maps, and information about the park’s history, geology, and wildlife.

  • Otira Viaduct Lookout: A beautiful spot to watch the passage of the TranzAlpine train on the vast viaduct and take in stunning views of the surrounding mountains.

  • Craigieburn Forest Park: A popular area for hikers and mountain bikers, the park has many trails with spectacular views of the Southern Alps.

Natural Attractions of Arthur’s Pass National Park: Outdoor Adventures and Scenic Views

  • Avalanche Peak: A challenging hike that culminates in a panoramic view of the park and surrounding mountains.

  • Bealey Valley: A beautiful valley with scenic walks, waterfalls, and mountain views.

  • Dobson Nature Walk: A short and easy walk through the lush rainforest, a great way to admire the flora and fauna of the park.

  • Castle Hill: a striking collection of limestone boulders, with several walking trails, including the Flock Hill Walkway.

Hiking/Biking Routes of Arthur’s Pass National Park

Arthur’s Pass National Park has plenty of hiking and biking trails to explore, ranging from short easy walks to multi-day hikes. Some popular hikes include the following:

  • Avalanche Peak Circuit: A challenging, full-day hike that offers spectacular views of Arthur’s Pass and the surrounding valleys.

  • Bealey Spur Track: A scenic trail through beech forests leading up to a panoramic view of the park and the Southern Alps.

  • The Temple Basin Ski Field access track: Suitable for those not looking for an intense hike, this leisurely track goes through a beech forest on the way to the Temple Basin Ski Field car park.

Best Things to Do in Arthur’s Pass National Park: Activities and Tours

  • TranzAlpine Train: The famous TranzAlpine train ride passes through Arthur’s Pass National Park and is considered one of the world’s most scenic train journeys.

  • Skiing and Snowboarding: The park’s ski fields, Temple Basin and Craigieburn Valley, offer fantastic skiing and snowboarding opportunities during the winter season.

  • Wildlife Watching: Arthur’s Pass National Park is home to a diverse range of wildlife, including the rare and endangered, such as the mountain parrot, kea.

Week-Long Itinerary for Arthur’s Pass National Park

Day 1: Arrive in Arthur’s Pass and visit the Arthur’s Pass Visitor Centre.

Day 2: Do a short hike around the Bealey Valley, followed by a scenic drive on the West Coast road through the Otira Gorge.

Day 3: Hike to the top of Avalanche Peak for stunning views of the Southern Alps.

Day 4: Take a leisurely stroll through the Dobson Nature Walk, followed by a visit to the Craigieburn Forest Park.

Day 5: Ride on the TranzAlpine train and admire the stunning scenery through the park and surrounding areas.

Day 6: Ski or snowboard at the Temple Basin or Craigieburn Valley ski fields.

Day 7: End your visit with a visit to the Otira Viaduct Lookout and a picnic at the Castle Hill.

Food and Drink Scene of Arthur’s Pass National Park

Must-Try Dishes

  • Venison: A traditional New Zealand delicacy, you can try venison dishes at any of the local cafes and restaurants.

  • Fish and Chips: The classic Kiwi takeaway dish, you can enjoy delicious fish and chips at any of the local fish and chip shops.

Local Beverages

  • Monteith’s Brewery: Arthur’s Pass National Park is home to the famous Monteith’s Brewery, which offers tours and tastings of its craft beers and ciders.

Where to Stay in Arthur’s Pass National Park: Hotels, Hostels, and Guesthouses

  • Arthur’s Pass Alpine Motel: A comfortable and cozy motel with stunning mountain views and modern amenities.

  • Bealey Hotel: A historic hotel with a cozy log fire and a traditional pub atmosphere.

  • YHA Arthur’s Pass: This hostel has a friendly and relaxed vibe, offering a variety of accommodation options for individuals and families alike.

What to Buy in Arthur’s Pass National Park: Souvenirs and Local Products to Bring Home

  • Jade: Arthur’s Pass National Park is famous for its jade, which is carved by local artisans into pendants and other jewelry.

  • Wool Products: New Zealand is famous for its sheep, and the national park has several shops selling wool products such as scarves, hats, and jackets.

Local Culture and Customs of Arthur’s Pass National Park

The park has a strong Maori heritage, and visitors should be respectful of the local culture. The park also has a strong conservation ethos, and visitors should follow the park’s guidelines to minimize their impact on the environment.

Best Time to Visit Arthur’s Pass National Park

The best time to visit Arthur’s Pass National Park is during the summer season (December to February) when the weather is warm and the days are longer. However, the park also offers unique attractions during the winter season, such as skiing and snowboarding.

Do’s and Don’ts of Arthur’s Pass National Park


  • Respect the local culture.

  • Follow the park’s guidelines on hiking and camping.

  • Pack appropriate clothing and equipment for outdoor activities.


  • Leave litter in the park.

  • Feed the wildlife.

  • Disturb the park’s ecosystem.

Safety and Health

Safety in Arthur’s Pass National Park

  • Always check the weather forecast before starting your hike.

  • Be aware of potential hazards such as rockfalls, avalanches, and river crossings.

  • Make sure to have appropriate clothing and equipment for outdoor activities.

Health in Arthur’s Pass National Park

  • Bring insect repellent to prevent bites from sandflies and mosquitoes.

  • Be careful not to get dehydrated, especially during the summer season.

Getting to Arthur’s Pass National Park: Transportation Options and Logistics

Airports Near Arthur’s Pass National Park

  • Christchurch International Airport: The closest airport to the park, with regular flights to and from domestic and international destinations.

Bus Stations Near Arthur’s Pass National Park

  • Atomic Shuttles: Offers regular services between Christchurch and Arthur’s Pass.

  • Intercity: Offers services between Christchurch and Hokitika, with a stop at Arthur’s Pass.

Other Options

  • Car rental: You can rent a car in Christchurch or other major cities to reach Arthur’s Pass National Park.

  • TranzAlpine train: A scenic train journey from Christchurch to Greymouth, stopping at Arthur’s Pass National Park.

How to Get Around in Arthur’s Pass National Park

The best way to explore Arthur’s Pass National Park is on foot, but you can also drive or bike on the main roads.

Where to Go Next from Arthur’s Pass National Park: Nearby Destinations and Excursions

  • Christchurch: The largest city on the South Island, Christchurch has a vibrant arts and culture scene, historic architecture, and fantastic restaurants and bars.

  • Hokitika: A small and charming town on the West Coast with stunning beaches and an artisanal craft scene.

  • Franz Josef Glacier: One of the most accessible glaciers in the world, located in the Westland Tai Poutini National Park, with many opportunities for glacier hikes and scenic flights.


Arthur’s Pass National Park is a truly magnificent natural wonderland with many attractions and activities to suit all types of travelers. Plan your visit with our comprehensive travel guide and explore the stunning beauty of New Zealand’s Southern Alps.