St James Weather ConditionsRSS

Your safety is your responsibility

  • St James is an alpine environment, subject to weather extremes, flooded rivers and avalanches. Visitors must be prepared for the worst at all times:
  • Take clothing for all weather conditions regardless of the forecast, as well as extra food / water supplies
  • Tell someone where you are going and when you plan to return
  • Treat all rivers with respect; never attempt to cross swollen rivers or streams
  • There is no cell phone coverage in this area. You are on your own unless you take or hire a satellite phone, mountain radio or personal locator beacon. Hire outlets are listed on
  • Topographical maps are essential for all backcountry trips
  • Check with your closest DOC office, visitor centre or website  that all tracks and huts are open before leaving


You can take dogs onto St James east of the Waiau River, but this will require a permit prior from the DOC Waimakariri Area office (during office hours) phone 03 313 0820 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  prior to your trip.

To protect its high conservation values and vulnerable native birds, particularly kiwi, dogs are not permitted west of the Waiau River.

Dogs must be kept under control at all times. Clean up after your dog and remove any faeces. Dogs are not permitted in any of the huts.


Fire is always a conservation concern in the high country. There will be no open fires in the St James Conservation Area. Call 111 to report wildfires.


Avalanches can occur every year when there is snow in the mountains. Most occur during winter storms or in spring/early summer when warmer temperatures or rain make the snow unstable. Even if you cannot see snow from the track there may be enough snow out of sight in the upper slopes to form an avalanche that could reach the track.

Avalanche paths affect the following places:

  • St James Walkway from Christopher Hut to the Lewis Pass road end. All avalanche paths are marked on the walkway, you should not stop in the marked places.
  • Maling Pass when there is more than one metre of snow on the track
  • Waiau Pass Track is complex avalanche terrain
  • Fowlers Pass Track is challenging avalanche terrain
  • The Spenser Mountains and St James Range north of Maling Pass are complex avalanche terrain
  • The Opera Range, Libretto Range and the St James Range south of Maling Pass are challenging avalanche terrain

Refer to the brochure Be Avalanche Alert – St James Conservation Area for more detailed information.