IntroductionThe Poulter valley offers great scenery, some challenges and a good hut for an overnight stay.
Mountain biking is generally only permitted on formed roads within national parks. Following a trial on the potential impact of mountain biking in national parks, the Arthur’s Pass Management Plan was amended in 2012 to allow for one of the few mountain bike tracks in national parks.
Mt White Road
Grade 1: Beginner
Distance: 25 km
Time: 2 hr
Other users: vehicles
The Mt White Road traverses along tussock flats bordering the grand Waimakariri River, with wide sweeping views up the valley. Approximately 25 km of unsealed road, allow approximately 2 hours from Mt White Bridge to Poulter River one way.
Mt White Road turns off from SH73 just before the highway drops down to follow the Waimakariri, about 25 km east of Arthur’s Pass village.
Grade: Grade 3 (Intermediate) to park boundary, Grade 2 (Easy) beyond park boundary
Distance: 20 km
Time: 3 hr 30 min
Other users: trampers, hunters
The trip offers bikers great scenery, some challenges and a couple of good huts for an overnight stay. Mountain bikers must keep to the specified route.
From Mt White Road, follow the 4WD track for 13 km, across river terraces and fans to reach the park boundary fence. The ride is a grunt in places. This stretch follows a legal road that goes through Mt White Station, so respect stock and farm activities.
From the park boundary fence, it is easy riding along an old 4WD track over river flats to the new Casey Hut on a terrace overlooking the Poulter River. The original Casey Hut burnt down in 2015, and a 12-bunk replacement hut was opened in August 2020 on a new site.
The last 1.5 km of the track has been diverted to follow the river to the hut, rather than entering the beech forest.
Beyond the Casey Hut, cross the Casey Stream and follow another 4WD track across river flats for another four km to reach the Trust/Poulter Hut - the end point for mountain-bike access.
These are shared-use tracks. Follow the mountain bikers code: respect others, respect the rules, respect the track.
Arthur's Pass National Park is rugged, mountainous and not as developed as most other national parks.
Bikers should take a topo map (Cass BV21) and check the weather forecast before venturing out. River-crossing skills are essential.
The Poulter river has a stock exclusion fence across the lower river. This can act as a strainer for rafters or people in the river.
For more safety information, view the Tramping in Arthur's Pass brochure (PDF, 744K)
Crossing rivers: If you plan to cross an unbridged river, you must know how to identify an unsafe river, and where and how to cross safely. You should also be prepared for being unable to cross.
If the river is flooded, you cannot find safe entry and exit points or are unsure it’s safe, do not try to cross. Turn back or wait for the river to drop - this often takes a few hours after rain, so be ready and pack emergency shelter and extra food.
A river is unsafe if there is:
- discoloured water
- debris in the water (such as branches)
- water flowing faster than walking pace
- movement of rocks in the water you can hear
Learn more about river safety on the NZ Mountain Safety Council website.