Otira Valley in Summer

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.

Footbridge over the Otira River

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.

Otira River looking towards the head of the Otira Valley

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.

Track leading uphill, following the river

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 and the Mt Cook lily.

Upper Otira Valley

This altitude, about 1400 metres, is the limit for the larger alpine flowers.

Head of Otira Valley

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.

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