The New Zealand Walks for Wimps series provides essential information about short, relatively easy hikes around New Zealand. Today’s is one of my favourites: the Bealey Spur Track near Arthur’s Pass. Don’t confuse it with the Bealey Valley Track, which I promise I’ll tell you about another time! Click on the map markers and links on the right for more great easy NZ walks!
Nearest town: Arthur’s Pass, Selwyn, Canterbury
Type of track: there and back
Official distance: about 12 km return
Official time: 4 – 6 hours return
Jenny’s time: 4.5 – 5 hours
Toilets: Where the track starts at the top of the road. Also near Bealey hut at the end of the walk, but that one was a bit nasty.
Tips: This track is somewhat exposed, so take a hat. At one point there is a steep cliff next to the track, so watch your kids!
I can’t believe I almost didn’t do the Bealey Spur Track. Of course I probably never would have known what I’d missed, but just the same. Wow.
Why was I going to skip it?
Well, every 6 – 7 years or so is a mast year, meaning the beech trees produce an overabundance of seeds, which causes a massive increase in the rodent population. And this was the year. There were mice in my hostel, and I spoke to one girl who said two had gotten into her tent at night. And lucky me, one decided that my car would be a great place to hide out. In the tiny village of Arthur’s Pass there wasn’t a whole lot I could do about this, so I was pretty anxious to get to a bigger town so I could buy a mouse trap!
Also, I’d spent the past two nights in Arthur’s pass, and was leaving that day. I was feeling a time crunch, having so, so much still to see on the West Coast and then everything that there is on the Northern part of the South Island, including my favourite beach, which I was simply not willing to miss.
So I almost didn’t go. But after my initial shock at finding half my food nibbled on, it was turning out to be a brilliantly sunny day, and I knew that those days were not so common up in the mountains. So I went.
The Bealey Spur Track begins with a steep walk up a road from the car park for about 500 metres to the start of the track. From there it climbs steadily through beautiful forest until the path emerges into the open and continues onto a ridge, with trees on either side that part occasionally for a view of the steep gorge on one side, and a gentler slope down to the braided Waimakariri river on the other side.
After a little while on the ridge there’s a spectacular viewpoint looking up, down and across the Waimakariri valley.
From here the track continues steadily upwards, through open grassland and a swampy area over a boardwalk, then up through more forest, until it finally reaches the rustic Bealey Hut, which was built in 1925 for sheep musterers.
From here the view is blocked by trees and the track goes no further, but if you want you can continue on through the grass up the hill for a while. I chose to eat my lunch in the sunshine and then turn back.
Although I keep saying the track goes ‘up’, most of it is a fairly gradual ascent and not difficult. And the views make it entirely worth the effort, so don’t skip this track!
Have you hiked the Bealey Spur track? What did you think? What other trails would you recommend in Arthur’s Pass?