Arthur’s Pass (Pt.1) – Surviving in the Wild


Arthur’s Pass Village

Arthur’s Pass is well known for it’s challenging and incredibly picturesque  hikes, which is why we made a beeline for here, still buzzing from yesterday’s river paddle.

One thing the three of us have learned from hiking here is to pay close attention to the weather patterns, and to be prepared to abort plans if conditions can make the trail a risky endeavour.

Day hikes in Arthur’s Pass

The morning we arrived, the weather was far from ideal as sheets of windblown rain were hailing down upon the cafe/only supermarket we took shelter in. Yep. Our plans were postponed. Multi-day hikes with river crossings were out, but there are still plenty of great day hikes to do.

Only “supermarket” in Arthur’s Pass

The cafe here makes an incredible Chai Latte and is a Wifi hotspot, so a great place to curl up with a hiking map and a weather report.

Devils Punchbowl Track

Luck seemed to be on our side and suddenly the rain dried up, leaving us with the best chance to hike a well maintained trail up to Devils Punchbowl Falls. The forest here reminded me of a Japanese garden with twisted silver-barked bonsai-style trees.


Amanda pointed out interesting little mushrooms, lichen and fungi here that covered the rocks and trees giving the forest a soft carpeted feel.

Devils Punchbowl Falls

The trail climaxed with a gigantic waterfall, so big that the water swept in slow motion down the cliff face creating this mesmerising view that had us all captivated.


With heaps of daylight left, we did the Arthur’s Pass Historical Village Track, a great 1.5hr walk down and up the valley, through the forest and over little wooden bridges.

Arthur’s Pass Historical Village Track

There are a few other hikes around this area also, and this really is a magical area to get lost in.

Exhausted, we scope out the campsites in the pass and unless you want to pay $30 for a YHA with a fancy shower and fancy toilets (too fancy for us dirty hikers!) Then you’re looking at $8 campsites with no water and a long drop toilet.

Hawdon Shelter Campsite

Moving further afield, along the prettiest winding road in the valley, crossing train tracks, over awesome bridges, through a cow field and up a unsealed road of pot-hole hell, we end up at Hawdon Shelter. A free campsite! It was by far one of our favourites as the open fields were dotted by patches of forest which had clearings big enough to build tent villages with our cars nearby.

Lavender Sunset

Feeling like a true girl-scout, we put up our homes, gathered firewood and wandered through the grasslands to catch the lavender sunset through the valley.


Making our first successful fire of the trip, testing out the skills we had learned from heating the Grottage over the winter, was awesome. Some owls even came over to warm up.


Traveller’s Tips:

DOC Campsite found on CamperMate:

Hawdon Shelter Campsite – FREE!! 20 minutes drive from Arthur’s Pass, generally better weather over there. Long drop toilets. Has a cool shelter, hopefully no-one will hog it when you’re there..! No water so come prepared. Plenty of pitches and parking. AWESOME! We actually came back here to stay 🙂 


Devils Punchbowl Track – a fairly easy well maintained 1 hour walk through a beautiful forest. If you’re a fungi fan you will love this place. Ends at a really high waterfall! Very popular.

Arthurs Pass Historic Village Track – there’s a reason why it’s named after Arthur’s Pass, it’s a stunning walk down into a forested valley and up the other side to a nice view of a rocky river. 1-1.5hr return.

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