Te Araroa Trail – Avalanche Peak (Off Trail)
Whilst Phil was slogging it out on the Mingha Deception/Goat Pass route, Mike and I had a leisurely morning. I got up at 8.30 am, then we went for breakfast in the Arthur’s Pass cafe. We were pretty excited about the brekkie, and although tasty, if I was being picky, I’d say it was a bit small for a hungry TA hiker. After breakfast, we picked up my resupply box from the YHA Mountain House.
Avalanche Peak Route
We’d spoken to DOC about the Avalanche Peak Route to make sure we were prepared, and took the loop starting with the Avalanche Peak track and coming down Scotts Track, involving a climb of 1100m up to 1833m. DoC recommends it as an Expert/Route track. I would not want to walk it in anything other than excellent weather. It is steep and very exposed at the top with steep drop-offs. Plus, you wouldn’t want to miss the views.
At 11 am we started up the track, starting close to the DOC centre. It climbed very steeply, over the occasional rocky section with some cool scrambling.
Take the Safety Essentials
We were slackpacking today and were only carrying the basics with us in day packs – lunch, water PLB and warm clothes. Once out of the bush the trail climbed further into tussock and we saw a sprinkle of snow way up on our peak and all those around us! The views were incredible and got better the higher we climbed.
There were switchbacks, rock climbs, and sharp drop-offs, and eventually, we got onto the rocky ridge line to the peak at around 1 pm. There were around 20 other people up on the peak too. It was a perfectly sunny day with little wind. We saw about 6 kea (NZ alpine parrot) around the peak, noisily flying around or investigating things in the rocks.
There were spectacular views down the river valley to Bealey, and across the Southern Alps in all directions, to the Jellicoe ridge to the West, the Crow glacier to the North and the Devil’s Punchbowl waterfall to the East. Even though we weren’t on Te Araroa trail, it was one of my favourite parts of the journey so far.
We ate our lunch at the summit, then made our way across and down via Scotts Track. Once down to the road, we popped over for the easy walk up to see the Devil’s Punchbowl Falls.
In the evening we did some washing back at The Sanctuary then went out to have the same fish & chips for dinner as last night. The Mingha Deception/Goat Pass route is a gap in my Te Araroa journey that I will come back to complete one day!