Avalanche Creek Falls, Arthur's Pass
Waterfall Seasons of Canterbury, New Zealand - The Waterfall Guide

 
Avalanche Creek Falls is only a short stroll from the main road road running through the Arthurs Pass village, making it the easiest waterfall to access in the Arthur's Pass National Park. Arthur's Pass is only a tiny village and it starts to shut down fairly early in the evening, with very little commercial activity after dark. Fortunately one of the features in the town that remains open at night is Avalanche Creek Falls, so bring a torch, follow the dimly lit trail and take the opportunity to see the falls under very different viewing conditions. Avalanche Creek Falls from the viewing platform Above: Avalanche Creek Falls from the viewing platform (Order gifts or prints of this image)

You can reach the falls from the trail behind the visitor centre or by walking up the hill next to the chapel, as described below under the Essential Information section. If you are coming up from the chapel, look out for the walking boot mounted onto a memorial stone.
If you are coming from the visitor centre, you will need to cross Avalanche Creek via a little stone arch bridge. As you lean over the bridge's stone wall, the view of the cascades here is so enchanting that you might be mistaken into thinking that these are the Avalanche Creek Falls. However, the falls themselves are about 100 metres further upstream and out of view from the trail head here. The cascades downstream of Avalanche Creek Falls Above: The cascades downstream of Avalanche Creek Falls (Order gifts or prints of this image)

At night, the path here is through a very short but dark section of forest with only a single lamp on one of the bends, so BYO torch. A spotlight underneath the viewing platform shines up the creek gully towards the falls, about 50 metres into the distance. The forest at night is still, apart from the sound of the gently rushing water. When mist descends down onto the village it creates an eery sense of isolation, despite being quite close to the main road. You cannot access the base of the falls at night, but if you return during the day with a pair of sturdy shoes you can scramble up the creek bed during low flows to get a closer view. In winter, I found the falls fringed with ice, but the water was still flowing strongly.
Your Seasonal Guide:
Best Time of Year to Visit:Best Time of Day to Visit:
Streamflow data is not locally available for this river, but based on available rainfall information, there is likely to be reliable flow over the falls all year round, with flows evenly spread throughout the year. Visit at night when the forest is dark and the falls are illuminated.
Other Essential Information:
Location: 81 West Coast Road (State Highway 73), Arthur's Pass National Park, Arthurs Pass, and 150 km (approx. 2 hour drive) north west of the Christchurch city centre.
Latitude:-42.940479 Longitude:171.560583
Getting there: From Christchurch head along the State Highway 73 through Sheffield and Springfield up to Arthur's Pass. In Arthur's Pass, you can reach the start of the 50 metre trail (part of the Millennium Walk) to the falls from behind the northern side of the Arthur's Pass Chapel, or by following the gravel path that runs behind the visitor centre. Parking is available in the main street near the chapel or at the visitor centre.
Water source: Avalanche Creek
Approx. height: Difficult to estimate, as the top of the waterfall is obscured from view, but I estimate the visible section to be approximately 20 metres high. The cascades downstream are a 3-5 metres high.
Approx. width: 1-5 metres
Approx. length: 5-10 metres, with a long flat section of around 50 metres between the main waterfall and the downstream cascades, which have a similar length of 5-10 metres.
Swimming available at the falls: No, as the base of the falls is not readily accessible, but you can paddle in the small pool at the base of the downstream cascades if you are prepared to clamber down the steep river bank.
Facilities: None at the falls. There is a car park and public toilet at the visitor centre, and a cafe in the main street near the start of the walk to the falls.
Entrance fee: None
Opening times: Always open
Sun shade: Shade available at the falls
Wheelchair access: None
Prohibitions including whether you can bring your dog: No dogs
Accommodation options: Camping is available for a nominal fee at the Avalanche Creek Shelter campsite, on the opposite side of the road between the visitor centre and the chapel, but there are only ten tent sites available. There are a few other campsites a few kilometres outside of town at Greyneys Shelter and Klondyke Corner, which also have only a limited number of spots. All campsites are first in, first served, and you pay on arrival at the self-registration stand. If you are staying overnight in the area and don't want to camp, you can try accommodation in Arthur's Pass. I stayed at the Arthur's Pass Alpine Motel as a paying guest and found it to be warm and comfortable, with friendly and helpful hosts.
Managing authority: NZ Department of Conservation
Nearby attractions: Devil's Punchbowl Falls and Bridal Veil Falls, on Punchbowl Road, roughly 500 metres north of town.
Before you head out, make sure you read the waterfall safety information.
Locality Map:
The marker indicates the approximate location of the start of the trail to the falls.
Change of Conditions:
I am not currently aware of any change of conditions reported at this site by the managing authority, or by visitors to this website. If you are visiting this waterfall and have any further updates on any change of conditions, let me know via the comment form below.
Comments:
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© Brad Neal 2017. All rights reserved. This work is not to be sampled, copied, modified, adapted or reused for commercial purposes without the written consent of the author.