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Otira Viaduct Lookout, Arthur’s Pass

Otira Viaduct Lookout, Arthur’s Pass

Opened in 1999, the Otira Viaduct is one of the more interesting pieces of road engineering in the South Island. The Otira Viaduct Lookout takes full advantage of its location with amazing views over the viaduct and the rugged scenery surrounding it. Don’t miss it when driving through Arthur’s Pass!

Otira Viaduct Lookout

The Otira Viaduct Lookout is the place to go for awesome views of Arthur’s Pass — if you’ve only got time for one or two stops along this route this should be one of them. The sign should be obvious when driving — pull in, find a park and (hopefully) enjoy the views. We usually stop at Otira Viaduct Lookout when driving through Arthur’s Pass and it always looks a little different. You won’t see much in rain / thick clouds, but even if it looks less than promising it’s worth waiting around for a few minutes to see if it’ll change.

On our most recent visit it was raining on and off during our drive and when we got to the lookout we couldn’t see anything.  A few minutes later the clouds parted and we were treated to our best look yet at this iconic view.

The views at the lookout will suffice for most, but there is an unmarked track which leads along a ridge above the viaduct. I couldn’t see much towards the end of the track as the clouds had rolled back in — be careful if you do it as there are steep drop-offs with no fences — not a place for small children!

Other Things to Do in Otira

The Otira Stagecoach Hotel is a fun place to stop when driving this route — there are Lord of the Rings characters outside (with Gollum on the roof) and heaps of quirky antiques and collectibles inside.

There’s also the Otira Valley Track if you’re keen on a walk and Arthur’s Pass Village is a short drive away. There you’ll find hotels, cafés and several walks — Devil’s Punchbowl Falls (pictured below) is a good one to do or go for Avalanche Creek Falls if you’re feeling lazy (it’s in the village right by the main road).

Are you planning a trip to New Zealand? Check out our two-week South Island itinerary!

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Jon Algie

I'm a South Island local -- born in Timaru and raised in Dunedin. I left the island in 2006 and returned 10 years later. Having seen a good chunk of the world I realised how special this place is -- the most beautiful island in the world! Seven years (and almost 400 posts) later I'm still helping locals and tourists alike plan their trips around the South Island.