Temple Basin Track

Temple Basin Track

Temple Basin Track is a walking track in Arthur’s Pass National Park that leads up to Temple Basin ski field. It is heavily used by club field skiers, riders and some mountaineers over the winter months. During the summer the track is used far less frequently, mostly by hikers and members of the ski field club that are making repairs to the club’s facilities. The track up to the skifield is relatively steep, especially if you are carrying your own ski gear up to the top. It’s not easy going. Temple Basin and the surrounding area is well known for kea sightings due to the alpine environment that the terrain covers. There are a number of traverses and summits that begin with or end along the Temple Basin Track. including Mount Cassidy – Blimit Traverse along with Temple Col – Goat Pass Traverse.


1 hour


2.5 km


490 m





Looking out over SH73 from part way up the Temple Basin Track

42°54′35″S 171°33′51″E

In Detail

Photos from this trip up to Temple Basin are part of the 2019 Canterbury Mountaineering Club Snowcraft Instruction Course. Hence this is why you can see photos of other members of the group wearing crampons and carrying ice axes. To reach the lodge this specialist gear is not required to reach the Temple Basin lodges at the bottom of the ski field. The hike up to Lockwood Shelter can take anywhere between 30 mins to 1.5 hours depending on your fitness and how fast you walk. Ensure that you leave no valuables in your vehicle as the car park is unattended. Car parks along some of New Zealand’s highways have been known in the past for break ins.

Looking down the Temple Basin Track to the carpark
A skier carrying his gear up along the switchbacks of the Temple Basin Track

Getting There

Getting to the Temple Basin Car park is really straightforward. From Christchurch hop onto SH73 and follow it right through past Arthur’s Pass township. There are a few bends and turns in the road but just after you emerge from the trees you should see a small gravel car park on your right. Alternatively, from Christchurch, you can follow the Google Maps recommendation and take Old West Coast Road out to Sheffield then follow State Highway Seventy Three (SH73) along past Arthur’s Pass to the car park.


The track up to Temple Basin is well marked and easy to follow. Although it is well marked, the track gains elevation quickly as you climb towards Lockwood Shelter the endpoint of the walking track. Right the way up the track is marked with orange marked poles. Most of the way to the summit there is a well-defined track. In the winter there can be a crust of snow that sits just above halfway along the track where you start to dig your feet in.

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If the weather is looking good you’ll be rewarded for all the hard climbing that you’ve done to reach the skifield. The views over the surrounding area and up across to Avalanche Peak, Mt Rolleston and Mt Philistine are incredibly beautiful and a highlight of this short hike. Spring is a great time to head up here when there is a good clear patch in the weather yet there is still plenty of snow in the mountains. Unfortunately straying anywhere too much further from the track can get you into Avalanche terrain. If you are planning on climbing or interested in the conditions you can find more information through the New Zealand Avalanche Advisory.

Temple Basin Track

Temple Basin Track starts from just off State Highway Seventy Three (SH73). There’s only a short distance between where you park the car and where the climbing begins. At first, the track is relatively easy-going at first with the track being smooth and gravelled. On a good day, you’ll be able to see Blimit and Mt Temple from the start of the walking track. The track soon finds it’s a groove with one large Z at the start before progressively engaging in some tight switchbacks as you climb. It’s almost guaranteed that you’ll be working up a sweat by the halfway mark.

Top: Our group for the CMC Snowcraft Course making a start on the hike up along the Temple Basin Track
Middle Left:
Looking across to Hills Peak in the distance on the way along the Temple Basin Track
Middle Right:
A rugged section of track with large rocks to climb over

Temple Basin Track in Winter

During the winter season, the higher you climb the more the vegetation disappears and the less rock you’ll find underfoot. Wearing a good sturdy pair of boots along the track will help give you both the grip and support that you need to get up the hill will help to get you up along the track. As you close in on the base of Temple Basin the track flattens out a lot more. This is where when you look right behind you on the descent you’ll see out over Mount Rolleston and get some pretty epic views on a good day. A bridge crosses a small stream that has been built for skiers access along the mountain. During the winter it is a matter of kicking your steps deep into the snow to ensure that you have your self a fair grip before taking your next one.

Bottom: Inbetween the clouds looking towards the summits of the surrounding mountains
Middle Left: Wooden sleepers laid down to form steps part of the way up along the
Middle Right:
Looking up towards the base of Temple Basin Skifield Lockwood Shelter the red hut seen in the photo
Top: Walking across a wooden bridge right before the final ascent to the skifield huts

Lockwood Shelter

The Lockwood shelter at Temple Basin is currently maintained by the Canterbury Mountaineering Club. It provides a place for shelter and rest as a day shelter. Inside the shelter, there is a stainless steel benchtop, solar lighting, area map, fire extinguisher and blanket, rainwater tank and an indoor toilet. For further information on Lockwood Shelter take a read of the Canterbury Mountaineering Club’s website.

Looking up towards Lockwood Shelter and the other Temple Basin Ski Field Accommodation

Temple Basin Ski Field

Temple Basin Skifield covers an extensive variety of terrain with the majority of its trails being either intermediate or expert. There are Three rope tows on the skifield that give skiers access up and down the mountain. Nut Crackers and a harness are essential for travel up the rope tows. For a full trail map and further information on Temple Basin Ski Area check out their website for all the details for planning your ski trip during the winter months.

Left: Looking out across to Mt Rolleston a small lift shed sits in the foreground
A skier attempting to ski one of the chutes at Temple Basin whilst the others brace themselves for what’s to come

Courses at Temple Basin

Instruction courses run throughout winter and early spring by the New Zealand Alpine Club (NZAC), Canterbury Mountaineering Club (CMC), New Zealand Snow Sports Institution (NZSSI) and Outdoor Education New Zealand (OENZ) offers instruction for basic snow craft skills and alpine mountaineering skills using ropes. Courses can range from 1 – 9 days depending on the provider. Avalanche Saftey Awareness courses also run from Temple Basin Ski Area. Avalanche awareness courses are essential for people interested in exploring the backcountry over the months of winter and spring.

Looking out over Mt Rolleston from part way up Temple Basin ski field

Return to Temple Basin Car Park

The return journey back down to the Temple Basin carpark is faster, although it can be harder on the knees. Hiking down a number of steep sections of rock and keeping your footing in the snow (if it’s winter). As mentioned earlier, having a set of poles whether they be ski poles if you are heading up for a ski or a pair of hiking poles can really make a difference. The support that they give you along unstable sections of the track that aren’t quite as well formed can make a difference.

Top: At the beginning of the descent soon after departing from the ski lodge where the snow begins/ends on the return journey
Patchy snow along the track Avalanche Peak in the distance
Bottom: Looking back out over the car park as the sun sets behind the mountains after a long day