Devils Punchbowl Falls is one of the main tourist attractions in Arthur's Pass. At 130 metres high, with a clear view of the full length
of the falls from the viewing platform, it's easy to see why. Water squirts out through an elevated narrow gorge at the top of the falls
and drops into a small pool down below. The pouring of the "punch" is easy to see, but the circular pool or "punchbowl" is hidden behind
a mound of boulders that block its view from the platform.
Above: A glimpse of Devil's Punchbowl falls from the walking trail
(Order this image)
The walk to the falls is relatively short but quite steep and varied. It starts with a flat walk across the bridge over the Bealey River, followed
by a narrower and higher suspension bridge across Devil's Punchbowl Creek.
From there the walk heads uphill through a lush beech forest with amber mosses hanging suspended from the branches. There are numerous
steps that will test your fitness before the track returns to gently undulating as you near the falls.
Above: Devil's Punchbowl Falls in winter
(Order this image)
There was no obvious track to venture to the base of the falls, however having only visited in winter, the rocks were icy and it would
have been risky to attempt walking along the creek bed. I have seen a NZ government tourism photo of someone walking up to the punchbowl in
warmer weather, which suggests that it is possible.
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 from mid-morning onwards to see the falls in full sun without it blinding your eyes or putting
the falls in shadow.|
Other Information Before You Go:
Punchbowl Road, opposite 100 West Coast Road (State Highway 73), Arthur's Pass National Park, Arthurs Pass,
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, after passing the shops in the main street, turn right down Punchbowl Road on
the northern side of town. The car park for the walk to the falls is about 150 metres from the highway. From the
car park, follow the 900 metre, steep walking trail up the hill to the falls.
Devils Punchbowl Creek
131 metres (source: NZ Dept of Conservation)
Near vertical drop
Swimming available at the falls:
There is a small pool at the base of the falls, but you need to scramble
up the creek bed to reach it. There is no formal access track to this small pool.
A viewing platform at the falls and a car park at the start of the walking trail. No other facilities, so
take your rubbish home with you.
There are several open and exposed areas on the walk to the falls, and the viewing platform has limited
to no shade, depending on time of day.
Prohibitions including whether you can bring your dog:
No dogs. No going near cliff edges.
Camping is available for a nominal fee at the Avalanche Creek Shelter campsite,
which is about 500 metres south of Punchbowl Road, between the visitor centre and the chapel. There are only
ten tent sites available here. 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 the following options.
I stayed at the Alpine Motel (as a paying guest) and found it a comfortable base for exploring the area.
All distances to the start of the walk to the falls below are by road, not as the crow flies.
NZ Department of Conservation
Bridal Veil Falls
, which is also accessible from the car park, and
Avalanche Creek Falls
, back in town, roughly 500 metres south of Punchbowl Road
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 the map is not zoomed in locally, as can occur with some browsers, simply refresh this web page.
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I'm particularly interested in your experiences after visiting, and any changes in conditions, etc.
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© Brad Neal 2021. All rights reserved.