Waimakariri-Harman Pass Route | South Island, NZ, 2010

img_2975Distance:  29.8 miles (48 km) approx. (including side trip up Avalanche Peak)

Avg. Time:  3-4 days

Start / Finish:

  • Arthur’s Pass Village / Kelly Shelter
  • The Kelly Shelter trailhead is accessible via regular bus services from Arthur’s Pass Village. Alternatively, it is an easy hitch to and from the village.

Season:  November to March

Maps / Info:

  • The 1:50,000 Topo50–BV20 Otira, covers the entire route except for a short section between Seven Mile hut and the beginning of the climb up the Kelly Range. All maps in the Topo50 series are widely available in Outdoor stores or DOC offices throughout NZ.

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  • In addition to the Topo map, I used the trekking notes contained in Lonely Planet’s Tramping in New Zealand guidebook.

Route / Conditions:

  • Ideally, try to make your ascent of Avalanche peak in sunny conditions. The views are incredible. Well worth the extra distance.
  • Gorgeous waterfalls on the ascent up to Harman pass.

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  • Good hot springs near Julia Hut. However, depending on the conditions you may need to do a bit of digging in order to create that “perfect” spot.
  • The route is often slow going, with large portions of the track spent negotiating boulders, mud and moss covered rocks.
  • If the weather turns nasty, it is possible to forgo the final ridge section between Seven mile Creek and Kelly Shelter, by following the 4WD track NW from Seven Mile shelter all the way to the SH73. Hitch back to Arthur’s Pass from there.

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  • Huts are the way to go on this tramp. They rarely seem to be crowded and are uniformly well maintained.


  • An enjoyable hike, the highlights of which are the views from Avalanche Peak, Harman’s Pass and the hot springs near Julia hut.

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