Avalanche Peak, New Zealand

December 3, 2007 / just a hike

This is just a hike (though a steep one) with great views of Mt Rolleston and friendly keas (wild alpine parrot found only in NZ). It is very popular with tourists, so you likely won't be alone on this one.

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The Avalanche track starts behind the visitor center in Arthur's Pass.
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Going up the steep trail.
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Up and up.
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Good views of Mt Rolleston from the trail.
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Looking back toward the valley.

We hike to the top of Avalanche Peak the day after we climb Mt Rolleston. We had planned on climbing Mt Philistine, but the weather early morning was just too cloudy, so we decided against it. Of course, a couple of hours later, we drive down to the visitor center under blue skies. Just cannot waste a day like this. And we can use some more training...

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The upper part of the Avalanche track.
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The last stretch to the summit.
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A kea, wild alpine parrot only found in NZ.
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Summit shot.
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Great views from the summit of Avalanche Peak.

There are a couple of popular ways to go up Avalanche Peak. We went up the Avalanche Track (starts behind the visitor center) and came down Scott's Ridge (ends up along the highway, a mile or so from the visitor center). The Scott's Ridge trail is a bit gentler on the knees and makes a better descent route. The asecnt took us about 2h45. We spent a lot of time on the summit (barely any wind, for once), enjoying the views and observing a couple of keas, obviously very accustomed to tourists (and their food...).

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Close-up view of Mt Rolleston and the crow Glacier.
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Kea playing with a piece of wood.
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Eric on the summit ridge.
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Kea on the summit ridge.
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Hiking down Scott's Ridge.

We leave the summit around 4PM and make it down Scott's Ridge in about 1h45, meeting more keas on the way. Enjoy the pics!

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Another kea shot. Click for movie.
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Keas - dull green on the oustside - are very colourful when they open their wings. Click for movie.
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Good view of the "Rome Ridge" of Mt Rolleston (RH skyline).
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Huge waterfall across the valley.
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Lower down, the trail enters the woods.

Note: keas are fun to observe. They are extremely intelligent and very curious. They like to play with anything they can get their beaks on. Unfortunately, they can also completely destroy your camper's rubber seals, windshield wipers, and more. When camping, all gear must be stashed under rocks when not in use, or the keas will have their way with it (this includes your tent, and of course your food!). We once parked our camper near Homer's Tunnel in the Darrans for the day while climbing on Moir's Mate. When we came back, we found that the keas had chewed on our awning and windshield wipers, and unscrewed our radio antenna (it takes at least 8 full turns to do this...). To add to the problem, most tourists find them so cute that they give them food... which makes them hyperactive and totally unafraid of humans.

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Ha ha.
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Hiking back to the visitor center.