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
Above: Avalanche Creek Falls from the viewing platform
(Order 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.
Above: The cascades downstream of Avalanche Creek Falls
(Order 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.
Here is a quick video of the falls in winter, including a late afternoon visit, and a visit after dark when I was the only one around.
Your Seasonal Guide:
|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 Information Before You Go:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Shade available at the falls
Prohibitions including whether you can bring your dog:
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.
NZ Department of Conservation
Devil's Punchbowl Falls
Bridal Veil Falls
, on Punchbowl Road, roughly 500 metres north of town.
Before you head out, make sure you read the
waterfall safety information
and check with the managing authority for any current change of conditions.
The marker indicates the approximate location of the start of the trail to the falls.
If you would like to leave a comment about this waterfall, please fill in the comment box below.
I'm particularly interested in your experiences after visiting, and any changes in conditions, etc.
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© Brad Neal 2019. All rights reserved.