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Off the beaten path in Arthur’s Pass

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September 2023 Issue

Amber Col, Arthur’s Pass National Park. By Emily Prout

The journey to Amber Col is varied and interesting, with boulder-hopping and mostly off-track travel. It’s also an accessible overnight tramp off the beaten path close to Christchurch.

The start is at Hawdon Shelter before walking to Hawdon Hut and ascending Twin Fall Stream to  discover a hidden gem – an enchanting hanging valley with a pristine tarn, which is home to whio.

At Walker Pass, turn left and follow the stream to Amber Col, from where there are views into the Edwards Valley on the other side of the ridge. We set up camp a few hundred metres below the col, under the dramatic Falling Mountain. This hanging valley is a stunning place to pitch a tent and watch the sunset.

Another campsite, not far from here, is beside a tarn on the southern side of Falling Mountain. Climb to the right from Amber Col to reach it.

Retrace steps to return, or traverse the tops of the Polar Range (more difficult) and descend a massive scree slope into Sudden Valley Stream. Scree-running from the tops to the valley floor is exhilarating. Then, it’s a boulder-hop alongside the stream on the way out to rejoin Hawdon Valley.

Total Ascent
6hr to Amber Col
Mt White Road

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