Arthur's Pass

The legendary Arthur's Pass Road in New Zealand

Arthur's Pass is a mountain pass at an elevation of 739m (2,425ft) above the sea level, located within the Arthurs Pass National Park, the major national park in the center of the South Island New Zealand.

Can you drive through Arthur's Pass?

Driving Arthur's Pass road is one of the most stunning drives in New Zealand. The road to the summit is called New Zealand highway 73 (also known as West Coast Road). Arthur’s Pass, climbing to more than 900 metres through Arthur's Pass National Park, is the highest and most spectacular pass across the Southern Alps. It is a piece of extreme engineering involving viaducts, bridges, rock shelters and waterfalls redirected into chutes.

Who is Arthur's Pass named after?

The road is paved. The pass is a popular base for exploring Arthur's Pass National Park. The road is majestic and beautiful but can be test of nerves for the driver. Particularly in winter, when snow and ice may cover the road and chains are recommended at times. Consider taking the train or coach to Arthur's Pass instead. The pass is named after Sir Arthur Dudley Dobson (1841–1934), who led the first party of Europeans across the pass in 1864. Be careful: thieves have been breaking into cars and motor-homes at various car-parks along highway 73 on a regular basis.

How steep is Arthur's Pass?

This is a remarkable road trip. Remember to bring your camera. Make sure you leave enough time to make plenty of stops along the way. An average annual rainfall of 4000 to 7000 millimetres per year is recorded and snowfalls during winter are frequent, with minimum temperatures ranging between -1 and -2 degree celsius. Over the years work has been done to improve blind corners and ease bends. However, the nature of the landscape and the weather can still make the Otira Gorge and Arthurs Pass road a challenging driving experience. The road is very steep, with sections up to 16 per cent in gradient.  There are 11 bridges with a total length of 406.6 m.

How long is Arthur's Pass?

The pass is 44.6 km long, running north-south from Jacksons, a settlement in the Westland District of the West Coast towards Bealey. The road over the pass was a traditional Maori trading route through the high alps and was first established for wheeled traffic (horse-drawn coaches) in 1866, following the discovery of gold in Westland. The road was built by labourers with picks, shovels, wheelbarrows and two-horse drays. It connected Hokitika and Christchurch. Many lives were lost during the road construction. Tragically six people were drowned in one week, and other drownings are also recorded due to the frequently flooded rivers.

How long does it take to drive Arthur's Pass?

Located in the Southern Alps of the South Island of New Zealand, allow 39 minutes to drive from Jacksons to Bealey.


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NOTICE: Due to the spread of COVID-19, many points of interest and roads are closed and travel is not recommended. Please follow all local health authority directives before venturing off, and stay safe.