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!
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.