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South Island’s first national park, Arthur’s Pass comprises distinctive eastern and western aspects. The eastern aspect consists of beech forest and wide riverbeds while the western features deeper rivers and lush rainforest.

At more than 900 metres, the Southern Alps highest and most spectacular pass cuts through a dramatic landscape and is home to a number of indigenous birds, including the kea – an inquisitive alpine parrot and the park’s most famous avian resident. Other notable bird species include rock wren, morepork, New Zealand falcon, New Zealand wood pigeon and even the great spotted kiwi.

Dividing the park are high snow-covered peaks, glaciers and scree slopes. The road into Arthur’s Pass National Park is a feat of engineering, with viaducts, bridges and waterfalls redirected into chutes. Although, long before Arthur Dudley Dobson made his way over the pass in 1864, the pass was a well-known route from east to west for Māori hunting parties.

A variety of walking opportunities, short or long, take you through New Zealand native forest along tracks, up to mountain peaks or to discover stunning attractions such as the magnificent Devil’s Punchbowl Waterfall. 

View suggested itinerary

Key info

  • Ideal for viewing: kea, rock wren, great spotted kiwi, New Zealand falcon, New Zealand pigeon
  • Where: South Island, New Zealand

Wildlife trips

This wildlife location is featured in the following itinerary:

New Zealand’s Wild West Coast

Discover the wild west coast of the scenic South Island of New Zealand. This journey from Christchurch to Queenstown explores the varied landscapes, birdlife and flora of the West Coast, including searching for kea in Arthur’s Pass National Park and walks in the South West New Zealand World Heritage Area.

  • When to go: Oct-Apr
  • Duration inc. flights: 13 days
  • Price inc. flights: From £6,245 pp
  • Trip type: Group tour