Set in the Southern Alps of New Zealand is the Arthur's Pass area, one of the most accessible climbing and hiking locales in the South Island. Little Bealey is the unofficial name given to a peak near the end of a ridge running southwest from Mt. Rolleston. It is an offshoot from slightly higher Mount Bealey, separated from that peak by a mutual saddle. Most hikers and climbers complete the Avalanche Peak/Lyell Peak/Mount Bealey loop without venturing off to tag this peak but that's just as well as you can soak in the views of the Shaler Range, Polar Range and Jellicoe Ridge without being bothered by others.
The Southern Alps forms the spine of the South Island and Arthur's Pass (and Arthur's Pass National Park) lies on the road connecting the West Coast and the East Coast. Arthur's Pass is named for Arthur Dobson who is credited with surveying this area where the road through was completed in 1866. The river in this valley as well as this peak and Mount Bealey are named for Samuel Bealey, an early English Settler. You won't find the name "Little Bealey" on maps, it is only denoted as Point 1805, however, local trailsheets show Little Bealey in the Visitors' Centre.
There are two established tracks to access Little Bealey, the closest being the Bealey Track starting at the southern end of the Pass. And, one could take the Scotts or Avalanche Creek Tracks up to Avalanche Peak and scramble the ridge south.
The area is characterized by larger glaciated peaks, deep valleys, tussocky hillsides and lots of waterfalls. Keas and falcons fly in the skies and probably wonder why it took you so long to get up on top of the rocks. Little Bealey is a fun Class 3 scramble with a bit of loose rock. The couloirs on the east side might make for some interesting snow climbs although it appears most scramble up the north ridge from the saddle between it and Mount Bealey. It's a beautiful area and the steep hike pays off with a summit you will likely have to yourself.
There is but one way to get to this area by car. From the west or east, take Highway 73 to the town of Arthur's Pass. From Christchurch it is 150 kilometers or about 2 hours, from Greymouth it is 100 kilometers or about an hour and a half. You'll need to check in at the Department of Conservation in the middle of town on the west side of the road.
If you are taking Scott's Track up to Avalanche Peak first and then traversing south to Bealey, that trailhead is found just north of town right next to a small waterfall and directly across the valley from the large Devils Punchbowl Falls. There is a green sign that marks this track.
If you are taking the Bealey Track up, this trailhead is found on the south end of town. Turn west of Mt. Bealey Road (near the sign for the police station) and go to road's end at the trailhead.
An alternative to auto travel is to take the TranzAlpine Train from Christchurch.
No real red tape as far as fees go (none). It is strongly suggested you check in with the Department of Conservation/Arthur's Pass Visitor Centre. There is a sign-in sheet and you can check on area and trail conditions, weather, get maps etc.
Arthur's Pass Visitor Centre
PO Box 8
phone +64 3 318 9211
fax +64 3 318 9210
The Department of Conservation operates a system of 30 huts throughout the park. Contact them through their website or email them at [email protected] for more information. The nearest shelter is the Crow Hut that lies in the valley west of Avalanche Peak.
For accomodation in Arthur's Pass, you can check this website or I would recommend Arthur's Pass Alpine Motel for a nice clean, quiet place to spend the night before a climb. Say hello to the Jack Russel terrier the owners have there.