The Otira Valley Track is a stunning walk within Arthur’s Pass National Park, at the northern end of the Southern Alps. It is often used by mountaineers as access to Mt Rolleston and Mt Philistine, but it is also provides the opportunity for day walkers to experience an alpine valley with a feeling of remoteness.
The first section of the track is over sub alpine scrub and tussock until, after about 45 minutes, this footbridge is reached. It is a well photographed part of the walk.
The second section, after the bridge, is lightly marked by poles and cairns. It leads over scree along the river, gradually climbing to the top basin. This section of the walk is not recommended for walkers during winter, as there is a high avalanche risk.
There are huge rocks deposited in the valley floor. Most likely these have fallen during mega earthquakes of the alpine fault. The last such earthquake is believed to have been in about 1717. The next mega earthquake of the alpine fault is somewhat overdue.
In summer there are beautiful alpine flowers and plants; the alpine daisy, the Mt Cook buttercup and the Mt Cook lily.
This altitude, about 1400 metres, is the limit for the larger alpine flowers.
This is the Otira Slide (left) and Otira Face (centre) of Mt Rolleston. By late summer, most of the snow will have gone from these north-facing slopes, whereas on the southern side of Mt Rolleston, there is a substantial permanent glacier (the Crow Glacier). The Otira Valley floor is a jumble of rocks deposited by erosion, avalanches and remnant glaciers.
Heading back down the upper valley.
Homeward bound through the mid levels of the valley.
Location: the Otira Valley walk starts 500 metres on the West Coast side of Arthur’s Pass.