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Avalanche Peak – Arthur’s Pass, New Zealand

For our first little excursion in NZ, we drove to Arthur’s Pass in the Southern Alps. I don’t know how many times I have to say it, but I’m really not a huge fan of heights and climbing (as evidenced here and here), but I do love my partner. So when he told me that we’d be climbing a mountain called Avalanche Peak, I was doubly nervous. He actually has a history with avalanches: while climbing Ben Nevis in 2007, Scott was caught in an avalanche with two friends. They were rescued by emergency workers already in the process of rescuing another group. While it would technically be summer while we ascended, there was little a bit of snow on the mountain at the far top.

The round trip takes about 6-8 hours depending on your ascension skills, or even less if you’re the two intrepid men who very literally, ran past us while we navigated a skinny path through the woods. We saw them again at the peak, where they were playing in the snow after they had dined and chatted with the other climbers for at least a half our prior to our arrival. They chastised Scott for not bringing any whiskey to drink at the peak (“You can’t be a real Scotsman!”), and scared me half to death by suggesting that the path we intended to use to descend was even more difficult than the first. Scott tried to reassure me that the path would be safe, but I spent the entire time at the summit surrounded by parrots*, basically silent in fear.

My favourite thing about climbers is their innate friendliness. There’s always a passing hello, and a nice chat at the peak. Sometimes someone might even offer you a bit of their snacks. So, I probably seemed really rude that day, barely uttering more than a word. Sorry to anyone I met at the top, I promise I’m a very friendly person once I’m at the base!

All my worries were apparently for naught, because the way down was significantly easier than the way up, although Scott says I looked worried the whole way down. I kept waiting for the difficult part to come, the part that never came.

So in life, that makes 3 summits down, I’m sure another million to go.

*There are loads of parrots in Arthur’s Pass called the Kea. It’s very weird to see a parrot trying to eat your food at the top of the mountain. They’re like the seagulls of the southern alps.

Arthur's Pass
Arthur's Pass
Arthur's Pass
Arthur's Pass
Arthur's Pass
Arthur's Pass
Arthur's Pass
Arthur's Pass
Arthur's Pass
Arthur's Pass
Arthur's Pass
Arthur's Pass
Arthur's Pass

Walks in Arthur’s Pass

NOTE: before attempting any outdoor activity in New Zealand, please please check any alerts or warnings. New Zealand can be a very dangerous place to those who are not experienced in the outdoors, and can still be dangerous to those who are.

Avalanche Peak
6-8 hours
Via Avalanche Peak route or Scott’s route
For more advanced climbers

Devil’s Punchbowl
1 hour return
Very easy, simple walk

Photography and words by Diana Eastman
For more from Diana, follow her on Instagram at @thedianaeastman.

Oh, and don’t forget to check out our store for prints from our travels and more!

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