"You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you" - Isaiah 55:12

5 January 2016

Otira Valley, Arthur's Pass National Park - 1 January 2016

New Years Day, and we started the year in style with a day tramp up the scenic Otira Valley. Renowned for its alpine flowers, I had planned our visit around the Mt Cook lilies (which are not lilies at all!) being in full bloom. This proved not to be the case, but the trip was still superb.

The carpark was overflowing as we pulled up, the warm day no doubt attracting the outdoors lovers. Although only late morning, the day had already warmed significantly. Fortunately we were only off for a fairly short wander, aiming to lunch at the footbridge that crosses the Otira River mid-valley.

The track was what I would describe as a good tramping track, meaning there's definitely a track to follow, but it is rough and uneven underfoot. Initially we climbed around 50m up what appeared to be an old moraine, before leveling off and sidling along the hillside at a fairly constant height. It was easy tramping and, knowing the walk was only short, we took our time looking around, allowing the kids to explore this alpine playground.
As we made our way up the valley, the main attractions became the small side streams trickling across the track - the attraction being of course that the kids could dunk their hats in the water to cool down. As we continued on, the river rose up to meet us at around the 1000m contour, and it was here we discovered the footbridge, spanning across a cascading part of the river, balanced on 2 large boulders either side. It is secured and is quite safe, but it is narrow and only has a rail on one side so take care with young ones.

By now it was very hot, so we sought out shade under a boulder to eat lunch. It was an idyllic setting, and great fun cooking up lunch beside the gorgeously blue water, enjoying the sounds and sights of a mountain valley.
With lunch behind us, a quick discussion was had as to whether or not we ventured further up the valley. I was quite keen to sight the impressive Otira Face of Mt Rolleston, but with some tired little legs in the group, and a nor-wester that was picking up and starting to bring some cloud over the upper valley, we agreed to leave it for another day.

The walk back down the valley was as inspiring as going up valley, with superb views across to the peaks above Temple Basin and Pegleg Creek. Phipps Peak in particular is a striking peak as you look directly up its' West Ridge. We even found a lily in flower just to cap off the day.
A great day out, and a valley that warrants more exploration in the future.

Mt Philistine (1967m) and Warnocks Knob (1167m), from the Otira Valley

Heading up the valley

One of many stops on a hot day

Otira Valley footbridge

Looking up the Otira Valley from the footbridge

Lincoln hanging out

Nice sheltered spot for a cook up

Otira River

About the only shade in the valley

Lunch - falafel cakes

Otira River beneath the footbridge

Alpine flowers in the Otira Valley

Alpine flowers in the Otira Valley

An idea of how narrow the bridge is

View down the Otira Valley

Looking down the Otira Valley, Phipps Peak (1965m) the prominent peak opposite

Flowing water and flowers frequent the valley

Mt Cook Lily (Ranunculus lyallii) - it's actually a buttercup

Another attractive little feature trackside

View across to (L to R): Phipps Peak, Temple Col, Blimit, and Mt Cassidy

Looking up Pegleg Creek, with Phipps Peak on the right

More flowers - I need to brush up on my knowledge of flora!

Hills Peak (1645m, left), Mt Stuart (1906m), amd Pt 1820m (rear right)
Crown Copyright - Land Information NZ

Access: Take SH73 to Arthur's Pass. Continue through the village and shortly after the Temple Basin ski area look for a carpark on the left as you start to descend to the Otira Gorge. It's small and easily missed.

Time: Carpark to footbridge 45mins 

Map: BV20 Otira

Hut: None

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