Devils Punchbowl

Devils Punchbowl

Devils Punchbowl is a spectacular waterfall in the heart of Arthurs Pass National Park. The falls are popular among tourists and travellers because of how accessible they are. The walk is well maintained by the Department of Conservation and follow a number of flights of stairs that you must climb to reach a viewing platform looking out over the impressive Devils Punchbowl. Half an hour usually will give you enough time to reach Devils Punchbowl from the car park making a round trip of 45min to an hour. If you’re travelling between Christchurch and the West Coast of the South Island, I highly recommend taking a break in Arthur’s Pass for a breather and walking up to Devils Punchbowl.


30 min


1 km





Looking through to Devils Punchbowl from the
Looking out to Devils Punchbowl from the viewing platform at the end of the walking track

42°55′59″S 171°33′59″E

In Detail

Some of the best times to visit the falls are after heavy rainfall, during the winter, spring and early months of summer. I would recommend wearing a light rain jacket up to the falls, especially after heavy rainfall. The spray can often blow right the way to the viewing platform in a blanketing mist. If you’re ambitious and want to get up close and personal with the falls, you’ll have to jump over the wooden barrier leading up to the viewing platform and be very wary of the risk of rockfall. From this point you can walk right under the falls and gaze up at the impressive height of the falls.

Up close to Devils Punchbowl

Getting to Devils Punchbowl

From Christchurch, the drive towards Devils Punchbowl is very straightforward. Find your way onto State Highway Seventy Three (SH73) and follow the road over the Canterbury Plains, past Castle Hill and into Arthur’s Pass township. Towards the end of the township, just before you hit the open road there is a small AA sign that takes you down a small gravel road to the Arthur’s Pass walks where you’ll park up before heading off on your walk.

Route to Devils Punchbowl

The walk into Devils Punchbowl is relatively easy to follow. There are a couple of junctions along the way that lead onto other tracks. These are clearly signposted. As long as you are continuing to find your way along a smooth path with wooden staircases right the way along to the falls you’ll eventually find yourself at the viewing platform of Devils Punchbowl. You’ll need to be comfortable climbing a healthy number of stairs along the walk.

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Devils Punchbowl Weather

As mentioned earlier, the months of late winter, spring and early summer are some of the best times to visit waterfalls. The snowmelt, combined with the wet weather makes the falls pump even harder. Devils Punchbowl is even more impressive after some serious rainfall so if you can tough out the cold and the wet it will be a rewarding experience. Ensure that you pack a raincoat for the walk if it is during the spring months as you’ll be guaranteed to get wet.

Bealey Footbridge

The walk into Devils Punchbowl begins at a small carpark just off the main road running through Arthur’s Pass. The car park is rather large and can accommodate a large number of visitors. There is a Department of Conservation information board at the very start of the track that details a number of different walks in the area that you are able to complete from the same starting point.

Looking across to Devils Punchbowl from close to the carpark
Top: Looking along the walking track from the carpark
The first look that you get across to Devils Punchbowl from just after leaving the carpark

You don’t have to walk far before Devils Punchbowl comes into view along the track. If you have only a couple of minutes to spare or it’s far to wet, you don’t have to walk far to see the falls. The walk continues on over the Bealey Footbridge. Before long you’ll once again reach yet another footbridge, with a much clearer view of Devils Punchbowl. The bridge mentioned is showcased in the cover photo of this post.

Lauren walking across the Bealey Footbridge, the start of many of the walking tracks in Arthur’s Pass

Devils Punchbowl Track

The walk soon begins to follow numerous steps up wooden staircases through the bush climbing up as you go. The track is very well maintained and you’re feet will be more than comfortable in a pair of sneakers. The track climbs for a while before dropping down as you head deeper in the valley. The highest point is marked by the start of the climb up Mount Aicken along the track. It’s not until you start getting pretty close to the falls that the steps kick in again. You should be able to start making out the waterfall through the trees as you get close.

Top Left: Nathan (the author) heading up one of the first flights of stairs
Top Right:
A warning sign along the track placed by DOC near the highest point in the track
Lauren walking down the steps towards Devils Punchbowl

Devils Punchbowl

The Devils Punchbowl track takes you to a viewing platform with an information board of Devils Punchbowl. It is the best viewing point of the falls from along the track. It’s a great spot to capture beautiful photos of the falls and the creek flowing down. When the falls are really pumping you can end up blanketed in mist right the way back here on the platform. Somedays you don’t have to stay long before you’re a lot damper than before. If you’re that little bit more ambitious or have seen on social media there is a route that runs up to the base of the falls.

Looking out on Devils Punchbowl from the viewing platform

Top: Lauren looking out over the Devils Punchbowl creek from the viewing platform
Bottom Left:
Devils Punchbowl gushing down during the months of late spring the mist from the waterfall easily reached the viewing platform
Bottom Right
: Looking through the branches to Devils Punchbowl absolutely pumping over the edge

Base of Devils Punchbowl falls

If you’re more of the ambitious type and enjoy living life a little more on the edge there’s a route that has been carved out by many other ambitious people that have followed in similar footsteps. After reaching the top of the first flight of the stairs to the viewing platform there is a small DOC sign pointing out the danger of rockfall in the area. Jump the wooden railing and make your way up a route forged through the bush.

Left: Looking through the trees towards the waterfall as we approached the standard viewing platform
Middle: Zach climbing up balancing on the surrounding rocks, Devils Punchbowl on the left
Right: Richard making his way along the carved out route towards the base of Devils Punchbowl

At the best of times, the rock and the surrounding area can be very damp and slippery. Take care throughout this section use two hands to keep yourself from falling and avoiding tripping. The route isn’t too difficult to follow, especially when the falls are within sight the entire way along the trail. Eventually, you should reach a clear cut path through a grassy patch and the pool formed waterfalls base will be insight. Take the route at your own risk, the route isn’t promoted by DOC for safety reasons. If you’re up for a challenge the route gives you some perspective of how big this waterfall really is.

clambering up and around the rocks to get a closer look of Devils Punchbowl
admiring Devils Punchbowl from the base of the falls
Top: Zach along the route to the waterfall with devils punchbowl just insight
Edward and Zach admiring the falls from close up along the ambitious route mentioned above

Return Journey

The return journey takes less time than it does to reach the falls. Depending on how fast you walk, the round-trip takes approximately an hour. Allowing for a chance to get right under the falls if you wish. There are a number of other waterfalls in the area that you can visit but none are quite as significant as Devils Punchbowl. As mentioned earlier in the post there are a number of walks in the area that start from a similar point (mostly nature walks). If you’re up for a challenge Scotts Track which leads to the top of Avalanche Peak is nearby. An achievable day hike in the summer and autumn months.

Looking up towards Devils Punchbowl from Devils Punchbowl Creek
Top Left: Returning via the same track descending one of the last flights of stairs before the end
Top Right: Lauren on her way back down towards the car with a swooping hair flick
Bottom: Looking back across Devils Punchbowl Creek to the falls in the background