Showing posts with label Arthurs Pass Walking Track. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Arthurs Pass Walking Track. Show all posts

Wednesday, 13 February 2019

Short walk: Devils Punchbowl Falls: 10th February 2019

Another day trip to Arthur's Pass...


This last weekend my partner Karen and I went up to Arthur's Pass for the day and walked a number of tracks. One of them I walked towards the end of 2018 but the other was new to both of us. It was a really nice day in Arthur's Pass, warm, still and sunny...perfect weather for a trip to the National Park.

There were a lot of visitors in Arthur's Pass Village over the weekend

We went on the Sunday as they were running the 2019 Coast to Coast race on Friday and Saturday and the Village is always heaving with people for those two days.

 

Walking the Punchbowl Falls Track...as an alternate...

We were planning to walk the Otira Valley track but when we got up to Arthur's Pass Village there was quite a bit of cloud lingering around the top of the valley. The Otira Valley Track is situated right on the highpoint of SH73 going over Arthur's Pass so the Otira Valley would have been full of cloud. As an alternate we decided to go up to Punchbowl Falls a very nice short track down by the village.

Entrance to the car park for Punchbowl Falls Track


The car-park for the Punchbowl Falls Track is at the western edge of Arthur's Pass township, it was totally full of cars as this is starting point for a number of tracks in the area:Punchbowl Falls, Mt Aicken Track, Cons Track, Arthur's Pass Walking Track, Scott's Track and Coral Track.

Arthur's Pass Village: note the many tracks in the immediate area


Lots of tracks start from the Punchbowl Falls car park..

You walk up to the Bealey River bridge cross over it  and take the right hand junction to get to the Falls. If you go left you will eventually reach the pass at the head of the valley by following the Arthur's Pass Walking Track.



Looking at Punchbowl Falls from near the car park



Karen crossing the Bealey River bridge, Arthur's Pass

A very low Bealey River from the bridge to Punchbowl Falls, Arthur's Pass NP

Track junction on the true left of the Bealey River...go right!!

Once over the Punchbowl Falls Stream the track is a series of flat areas, steps and stairs...it is built to great walk standards so can be used by anyone with a degree of mobility. Boots are not required a pair of walking shoes will suffice...


On the Punchbowl Falls Track, start of the climb



Multiple sets of steps on the Punchbowl Falls Track

...and also a lot of stairs on the Punchbowl Falls Track

It is a bit of a haul climbing up all those steps and stairs but once you reach the apex of the track it is more gentle as it gradually descends down to the viewing platform at the end of the track.



High point of the Punchbowl Falls Track, descending to the viewing platform


Final set of stairs to the Punchbowl Falls Track viewing platform

We got to the viewing platform after about 25 minutes walking...not as many people here as last time I came up and the falls were flowing much more sedately. Several groups of ...lets call it as it is..idiots...ignored the rock fall warning signs and walked up the side of the valley to the lip of the falls.

This is not something I would do as I don't want to get squot like a pumpkin by a falling three tonne rock.... most of the transgressors were young with the resulting dumb obviously playing on their minds!!!!

I recommend you do not follow their example!

Punchbowl Falls from the viewing platform, Arthur's Pass NP



An interpretive panel describing the Maori origins for the Falls name...


Look closely and you can see some of the youngsters on the right of Punchbowl Falls stream...


After a short break at the falls we started off back to the car park, the return journey is much quicker than the walk in as there is a lot more downhill. The trip back to the car-park would have taken us less than 20 minutes but we stopped off to visit the old power station site.



Climbing back up the Punchbowl Falls Track to the high point

Stairs on the way back to the car-park, Punchbowl Falls Track



Nearing the top of the Punchbowl Falls Track on the way back to the car


Karen has never visited the site of the old power station built for construction of the Otira Tunnel so we took the short five minute walk to the ruins. They consist of a series of foundations left over from the power house itself and the massive dynamo wheels installed to generate power. The site is a part of the Arthur's Pass Historic Walk.

Sign for the track to the old power station, Arthur's Pass Historic Track

We had a Wren following us through the bush as we walked the short track to the power station site. The Wren flitted from tree to tree as it checked us out...it was quite young and bold. Meanwhile momma bird was watching us intently from the top of a nearby tree...

A Wren we encountered on the walk to the old power station site, Arthur's Pass

Some of the foundations for the fly wheels at the old Otira Tunnel power station site

Interpretive panel showing the old Otira Tunnel power station


We back tracked and walked back over the Punchbowl Falls Bridge (although Jon tried hard to convince Karen that an attempt at a crossing of the Bealey River was a good idea....it was very shallow due to the dry weather...)

Maybe next time we visit...


Crossing back over the Punchbowl Falls bridge on the way to the car park


On the way to Punchbowl Falls we passed Cons Track, this is a moderate to difficult track up the eastern side of the valley the falls sits in. Con was one of the early Rangers in the National Park, he built this track back in the mid 1960's to allow access to the upper slopes of Mt Cassidy. 

I will be visiting this track some time in the future: If you want to visit Mt Cassidy beware that once you leave the bush-line this track requires some rock climbing and can be moderately dangerous. You would need mountaineering skills and route finding ability to reach the summit.

I wont be going quite that far.....

Cons Track to the summit of Mt Cassidy, Arthur's Pass National Park

The current bridge over the Bealey River was built in the late 1960' the previous wire swing-bridge was destroyed in a big storm so they built a much higher and stronger structure to replace it. There have been bridges here since the 1880's so people could visit the Punchbowl Falls.



Interpretative panel next to the Bealey River swing-bridge, Arthur's Pass


The current bridge over the Bealey River, Punchbowl Falls Track



Excellent view of Punchbowl Falls from the track, true right of the Bealey River

My second visit to the Punchbowl Falls in three months but this kind of scenery never gets old.





Thursday, 11 October 2018

Short Walk: Devils Punchbowl Falls Track, Arthurs Pass: 7 October 2018

Day walking in Arthur's Pass, part two...

After finishing the Bealey Valley Track, I jumped into the car and drove down to the Devils Punchbowl Falls on the western edge of Arthur's Pass Village. The Falls are the third highest in Arthur's Pass National Park and are particularly impressive if it has been raining in the last 2-3 days.


The Devils Punchbowl Falls, Arthur's Pass from the track

This track is probably one of the most visited sites in the country as it is a short and not overly difficult track to a really gorgeous 112 meter waterfall. It features in Lonely Planet so a lot of international visitors stop here on their way over Arthur's Pass.

 On the Devils Punchbowl Falls Track, 1 hour return

You can walk to the start of this track from anywhere in Arthur's Pass Village but there is a large car-park situated right near the start of the track. It sits right out on the western edge of Arthur's Pass, and is the last gravel roadway on the right as you drive towards the Pass.



Entrance to car park for The Devils Punchbowl Falls, Arthur's Pass and Arthur's Pass Walking Track



Map: Track network around Arthur's Pass village



DOC sign at end of Arthur's Pass Village

The car-park will hold about 30-40 cars, it was 12 noon when I got here so it was totally full. The car park is the starting point for a number of tracks:

Cons Track to the top of Mt Cassidy
Scott's Track to the summit of Avalanche Peak
Mt Aicken Track
Devils Punchbowl Falls Track
Arthur's Pass Historic Walk
Arthur's Pass Walking Track


Track sign at the Devils Punchbowl Falls, Arthur's Pass car park

Start of The Devils Punchbowl Falls, Arthur's Pass and Arthur's Pass Walking Track
You can see the Falls and the bridge over Devils Punchbowl Falls Creek from the car-park, you can also see Mt Cassidy in the photo below, the object of a future tramp in the park...



Mt Cassidy from near the start of Devils Punchbowl Falls and Arthur's Pass Walking Track

There is an interesting stone hut just before you reach the bridge over the Bealey River, I think it belongs to the New Zealand Alpine Club (NZAC)..there are a number of similar huts in the village belonging to various schools, tramping clubs, alpine clubs and private individuals.


An interesting stone house, next to the Arthur's Pass Walking Track

The bridge across the Bealey river was built in the 1970's prior to that there was a swing bridge across the river. This solid bridge has been here since I was a child, I must have walked over it 40 odd times over the years while visiting the National Park. There is a nice interpretative panel on the far side of the bridge...



Bridge over the Bealey River, Arthur's Pass Village

The Devils Punchbowl Falls, Arthur's Pass

Once on the true left of the Bealey you just follow the nice track up to the second bridge over Devils Punchbowl Falls Creek. At the track junction you can go two ways...right is the Arthur's Pass Walking Track and right is the Devils Punchbowl Falls Track. 

The side track to Mt Cassidy, Cons Track starts about 20 meters away from the Devils Punchbowl Falls Creek bridge. Con was the name of one of the legendary NZFS park rangers who worked in the area in the 1960-1980's. 


Track Junction: left for the track to Otira, right to The Devils Punchbowl Falls

Arthur's Pass Village from the Devils Punchbowl Falls Track, Arthur's Pass


The bridge over the Devils Punchbowl Creek

The Bridge over Devils Punchbowl Creek


the Devils Punchbowl Falls Track, Arthur's Pass at the head of the creek

Once over the second bridge the Devils Punchbowl Falls Track starts proper, it is flat at first then turns into a long series of stairways which take you up the side of  Mt Aicken. 

Once you get to about 100 meters it sidles along the side on Mt Aicken and into the valley holding Devils Punchbowl Falls Creek.


Start of the the Devils Punchbowl Falls Track, Arthur's Pass


Turn off for the Arthur's Pass Historic Track

Here is the first of many, many staircases you will climb on this track...


Lots of stairs on the Devils Punchbowl Falls Track, Arthur's Pass


the Devils Punchbowl Falls Track, Arthur's Pass....even more stairs


View West from the Devils Punchbowl Falls Track, Arthur's Pass

Up until the mid 2000's this was a very basic dirt track running up and along the side of Mt Aicken, but once mass tourism hit New Zealand DOC built this new track to control erosion and increase visitor safety margins. 

On the old track there were two hairy arsed spots where you could fall 30-50 meters off the side of the hill, not ideal terrain for your average middle aged foreign tourist!!!


Even more stairs on the Devils Punchbowl Falls Track, Arthur's Pass


Close up of the stair structure: the Devils Punchbowl Falls Track, Arthur's Pass

Once you reach the apex of the track you lose all that altitude gain as the track descends right down to the creek bed. On the old track you stayed on the side of Mt Aicken right to edge of the Falls, back then you could look down into the cauldron where the falls land. 

The old track had a better view but it was way, way more dangerous...



Descending down to the Falls, the Devils Punchbowl Falls Track, Arthur's Pass

The track sidles along the flank of Mt Aicken: the Devils Punchbowl Falls Track


An attempt at a track border, the Devils Punchbowl Falls Track, Arthur's Pass

A beautifully formed track...the Devils Punchbowl Falls Track

Descending to the viewing platform, the Devils Punchbowl Falls Track, Arthur's Pass

Once down in the creek bed you climb up onto a new platform which gives you a very nice view of the falls. It was quite busy on the day I was there so I had to wait for about 10 minutes so I could get some shots of the falls without a crowd in front of me.


Climbing to the viewing platform, the Devils Punchbowl Falls Track

Climbing to the viewing platform, the Devils Punchbowl Falls Track

Climbing to the viewing platform, the Devils Punchbowl Falls Track

The Devils Punchbowl Falls flow right throughout the year but they are most impressive if you come up here when it has been raining for a couple of days. Then they are a ferocious, thundering monster with dense clouds of mist flowing down the creek bed. 

This is an all weather track but obviously don't come up here if the Bealey River is lapping around the bridge as it is wont to do on occasion. Arthur's Pass gets 8 meters of rain a year (twice as much as Fiordland), the river valleys are narrow, the rivers flood...you get the idea!!!



The Devils Punchbowl Falls (112 meters)


Interpretive panel at The Devils Punchbowl Falls

The Devils Punchbowl Falls

View down the creek from the platform for the The Devils Punchbowl Falls

The Devils Punchbowl Falls

After sitting for awhile and taking a few photos I headed back down the track to the car-park. It takes about 30 minutes to get to the falls from the car park and about 25 to get back so give yourself 1-1.5 hours to walk the Devils Punchbowl Falls Track and enjoy the scenery.



On the way back to the car-park, The Devils Punchbowl Falls Track

Climbing up to the apex of the The Devils Punchbowl Falls Track
The trip out is the exact opposite of the trip in....just follow the same track back to the car park.


Almost at the apex.....The Devils Punchbowl Falls Track

Just past the high point on the Devils Punchbowl Falls Track there is a side track to the top of Mt Aicken. This is a very steep, exposed track which takes about 3 hours to get to a point directly opposite Avalanche Peak. 

I plan to come back and walk this track some time in the near future, if you decide to head up there make sure you are fully prepared for alpine conditions and do not go up the track in the avalanche season as it can be very dangerous.


The rough and ready track to Mt Aicken, from the The Devils Punchbowl Falls Track

Climbing back down the stairs...The Devils Punchbowl Falls Track

Heavy forest around the head of the Devils Punchbowl Falls Creek


The bridge over  Devils Punchbowl Creek from the Devils Punchbowl Falls Track

I turned off the track and went along the Arthur's Pass Historic Track for a change of scene, I will be writing a post about this some time in the near future. Suffice it to say just walk back over the Bealey River bridge or if the river is low and you are keen why not try an easy crossing of the Bealey River.



Last view of The Devils Punchbowl Falls, true right of the Bealey

So another fine day walk in Arthur's Pass, I thoroughly recommend it to anyone passing over the pass, take the time to stop and enjoy some fine alpine scenery if you are ever in the vicinity. 


Access: Turn off SH 73 gravel road, right hand side, on the western edge of Arthur's Pass township. The track starts next to the car-park. The first 500 meters are on the Arthur's Pass Walking Track, then turn off to the Devils Punchbowl Falls Track
Track times: 1-1.5 hours return if time is spent admiring the falls from the viewing platform
Miscellaneous: Do not leave the track or attempt to approach the Punchbowl Falls as the area is prone to rock fall and is wet and slippery at all times.  No toilets at any point along this track.Do not drink the water out of Punchbowl Falls Creek as it has Giardia in it from time to time.