Adventures / Wild Hikes

Trek New Zealand's Southern Alps

A humdinger of a hike around Mount Cook and up over the Gillespie Pass

This trip is no longer on sale

Trip Ref #10267

Adventures / Wild Hikes

Trek New Zealand's Southern Alps

A humdinger of a hike around Mount Cook and up over the Gillespie Pass

DURATION

8 nights

LOCATION

New Zealand

ANNUAL LEAVE

5 days

SEASON

Nov-Apr

GROUP SIZE

Up to 11 people

MEETING POINT

Christchurch | Queenstown

ACCOMMODATION

Lodge · Cabin · Mountain hut

DIFFICULTY

Challenging

You'll need good fitness to manage up to 8-9 hours of trekking on the big days, with altitude gains of up to 800m while carrying a pack

Warm up with stunning stomps beneath New Zealand's highest mountain before tackling one of the South Island's toughest circuit trails

Hike through the river valleys, beech forests and spectacular alpine scenery of the Mt Cook and Mt Aspiring National Parks

Bunk down in mountain lodges and remote huts and wrap the trek up in style on a jetboat ride to the finish line

This trip is brand new

We’re still waiting to collect any reviews from other travellers on this trip. However, all our hosts go through an extensive vetting process to ensure that your adventure is awesome.

Included

Guides

Expert, English-speaking guides

Accommodation

4 nights in lodges, 3 nights in mountain huts, 1 night in a cabin

Meals

All meals except for 2 dinners

Transport

All transport to and from the hikes and between Christchurch and Queenstown

Not Included

Flights to and from the meeting point

Travel insurance

Personal expenses

Tips for your guides

Some meals as described

Travel to and from the start point

The Area

map

Logistics

Starts

Christchurch Accommodation

Anytime on Day 1

Ends

Queenstown Accommodation

Anytime on Day 9

Transfers

Airport transfers are not included. Getting into the city centre and to your accommodation on day 1 from the airport is very easy via a variety of options: public bus ($8.50), shuttle ($19) or taxi ($45-60).

Getting to Queenstown Airport on the final day is similarly straight forward via public bus ($10), shuttle ($10) or taxi ($45).

Travel options

Christchurch and Queenstown Airports have regular flights to and from Australia and various hubs in Asia which connect to Europe and North America.

What about all the carbon?

We've crunched the numbers to work out the total carbon footprint of this trip, and plant enough trees to suck 2x as much back out the atmosphere.

Day 1

Lodge · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 2

Lodge · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 3

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 4

Cabin · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 5 – Day 7

Mountain hut · Mixed dorm

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 8

Lodge · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 9

Departure day

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

What is the food like?

Good wholesome meals are provided throughout, with big portions to keep you fuelled. Expect a range of dinner options such as pasta, meat and bean stews, couscous and vegetables, tacos. Packed sandwich lunches will be taken out each day while on the hike, with plenty of fruit, nuts and energy bar snacks as well.

Vegans, vegetarians and other dietary requirements can be catered for. Please let your host know in advance.

What is the accommodation like?

Christchurch

Your meeting point and your first night on the trip is at The Camelot Motor Lodge, in an excellent location and offering a spa and swimming pool. You'll stay in twin-share rooms unless you request a private room upgrade for this part of the trip.

Mountain Huts

During the Gillespie Pass trek (days 4-8), you'll stay over at Siberia Hut and Young Hut - named after the valleys they are nestled in. These huts are known as 'DOC huts' - Department of Conservation huts which are maintained by the national park authorities. The huts make for a unique place to stay and are a New Zealand institution, with over 950 DOC huts through the country's extensive hiking trail network. Note that on the very rare and unlikely occasions that the huts are completely booked up well in advance, your guide will bring along back-up camping equipment for the group to camp beside the hut.

Mt Cook National Park

During your time in Mt Cook National Park, you'll stay in twin-share rooms at Wyn Irwin Lodge; a private mountaineering club hut, perfectly located a short walk from Aoraki/Mt Cook village and a stone's throw from a number of popular trailheads. The Lodge has 16 bunks, solar-powered lighting, gas cooking and hot water in the communal bathroom and kitchen facilities.

Queenstown

In the adventure capital of New Zealand, you'll stay at Pinewood Lodge, just a 15-minute walk from the action of central Queenstown. The Lodge is situated on expansive grounds surrounded by peaceful alpine scenery. You'll stay in double or twin-share ensuite accommodation with mountain or garden views. Linen is provided.

Upgrades

For solo travellers looking for their own space, an optional private room can be booked for an extra charge, see Optional Extras for the price. This covers your nights in Christchurch, Makarora and Queenstown. Please note that during the 2 nights in Mt Cook National Park at Wyn Irwin Lodge, and on the 3 nights during the Gillespie Pass section of the trip, at Siberia Hut and Young Hut, solo rooms are not available. You do have the option to camp outside both Siberia and Young Hut if you prefer (your host will provide camping gear). Please request a Private Room Upgrade at the time of booking (this is subject to availability).

Day 1

Arrive at Christchurch

You're free to arrive at the lodge in Christchurch at any time on day 1. In the evening you'll meet up with the rest of the group and with your guide to chat through the adventure ahead.

Day 2

To Mt Cook via Lake Tekapo

Hiking

1.5hrs

Hop in the van around 8:00 for the drive south to Lake Tekapo, a famous South Island spot known for its turquoise waters. Head out for your first hike from the lake, winding up through wild conifers and tussock grasslands to the summit of Mt John, giving you a 360-degree panorama of the Mackenzie Basin and its riverbeds and glacial lakes. The sweeping views are reminiscent of Patagonia. Carry on in the van to your lodge in Mt Cook Village and relax with views of New Zealand's highest mountain; Aoraki/ Mt Cook (3,724m).

Day 3

Hike to Mueller Ridge

Hiking

6hrs · 6-8km

Head out for your first big hike in the Mt Cook National Park, setting off on the Sealy Tarns Track, dubbed 'The Stairway to Heaven' due to its more than 2000 rugged stairs you'll soon reach incredible lookout spots over the Mt Cook Range and the mirrored reflections in the lakes below. Hike further up the Hooker Valley to the steep Mueller Ridge for yet more vistas, returning to the lodge by the same route. You can pop into the Information Centre late afternoon to get some inspiration from the tales of pioneering mountaineers and to learn about the park’s natural history.

Day 4

Mt Cook to Makarora

Hiking

2hrs · 4km

After breakfast, hike up steep glacial moraines to the Red Tarns, named for the colour of their pond-weed, and on further up to a superb panoramic viewpoint of the valleys below and Aoraki/Mount Cook. Bid farewell to Mt Cook National Park as you drive over to lakeside town of Wanaka in the southern lakes district. Grab a quick stroll around town and stock up on any supplies before heading over to your cabin at Makarora beside Mount Aspiring National Park. Tomorrow is a big day, so enjoy dinner and a drink or two in a classic NZ pub before heading back to your cabin to pack for the wilderness.

Day 5

Makarora to Young Hut

Once across the Makarora River we follow the Young River. The Young Valley is a wonderland of dense native forest and high peaks. The trail steepens and climbs steadily to the tree line. The track climbs steeply for 100m and then sidles through a series of unstable slips to reach Stag Creek. From here, it’s a steady climb to Young Hut.

Day 6

The Gillespie Pass

Hiking

7hrs · 12km

This morning the trail meanders its way up the valley sidewall beneath the imposing east face of Mount Awful. This section of the trek is right in the thick of a proper alpine paradise, with towering snow-capped mountains making a constant backdrop. 3-4 hours of alternating steep climbs and plateaus lead you to the Gillespie Pass and one of the great viewpoints of the Southern Alps with Mount Alba dominating the skyline. Descend steeply before sidling down through a series of snow grass basins down to Gillespie Stream and on switchbacking to Siberia Stream and finally Siberia Hut where you can rest up after an epic day.

Day 7

Lake Crucible

Hiking

4hrs · 13km · 600m up · 900m down

Nestled beneath Mount Alba is Lake Crucible, an iceberg-studded lake hidden away in the heart of Mt Aspiring National Park. Hike up the valley flats to Crucible Stream, where the track climbs a narrow spur, crossing a river, before coming out on a snow grass flat, home to fragile alpine herb fields, before reaching the lake; a turquoise treat in the middle of the wilderness.

Day 8

Jetboat ride to the finish line

Hiking

2hrs · 6km · 50m up · 300m down

Today you head down the valley trailing above the Siberia River with yet more spectacular views of the surrounding mountains and waterfalls of the lower Siberia Valley. Reaching the confluence of the Siberia and Wilkin valleys you'll finish the adventure in style, jumping into a jetboat for a thrilling 45-minute journey downstream back to Makarora. From here you'll drive on to Queenstown, stopping for a lakeside lunch en route to your lodge and a well-earned hot shower. Queenstown makes for a cracking post-trek night out to toast a memorable week of mountain hiking.

Day 9

Depart Queenstown

Your adventure comes to an end this morning as you bid farewell to your fellow adventurers and head off to your next destination in the South Island, or head to the airport for your flight home.

15% Off Outdoor Gear

In need of a few more items? All bookings receive a 15% discount on us to use at Cotswold Outdoor, Snow + Rock and Runner's Need.

What do I need to bring?

BAGS Trekking backpack (35-50litres) Daypack (20-30 litres) Waterproof liner for backpack & daypack

CLOTHES Down jacket Waterproof jacket Waterproof trousers
Breathable wicking layers Fleece jacket or similar Thermals (merino best) Warm hat Gloves Buff or neckscarf
Lightweight trousers/shorts / skirts T-shirts Underwear & socks Swimwear Sunglasses Sunhat Something to sleep in
Hiking boots (worn-in) Sandals

SLEEPING Cotton or silk sleeping bag liner Sleeping bag (xx season) Travel pillow or pillowcase Thermarest or sleeping mat

OTHER
Padlock for left luggage Universal travel plug adapter Power bank or solar charger Passports (and visas) Travel Insurance documents Ear plugs Insect repellant Suncream Personal first-aid kit (inc. blister treatment) Personal items (biodegradable toiletries, sanitary wear etc) Toilet kit (toilet paper, biodegradable bags to carry paper out to dispose of) Quick-dry towel Alcohol hand-gel Headtorch or torch Reusable water bottle x1 ltr Biodegradable wet-wipes Energy bars and snacks Water purification tablets/treatment system

Post trip accommodation in Queenstown - Single room

Payable Before Departure

Post trip accommodation in Queenstown - Single room

Per Night

Post trip accommodation in Queenstown - Twin/Double room

Payable Before Departure

Post trip accommodation in Queenstown - Twin/Double room

Per Night

Pre trip accommodation in Christchurch - Single room

Payable Before Departure

Pre trip accommodation in Christchurch - Single room

Per Night

Pre trip accommodation in Christchurch - Twin/Double room

Payable Before Departure

Pre trip accommodation in Christchurch - Twin/Double room

Per Night

Optional Private Room Upgrade

Payable Before Departure

Optional Private Room Upgrade

This is a challenging trek which you'll need good fitness levels for. On average you'll be trekking for 4-5 hours, however, this rises to up to 8-9 hours on the longer days. Altitude gains of up to 800m will get the heart pumping on the tougher stretches. The terrain is ofte on uneven track surfaces and there are some river crossings to tackle under the supervision of your mountain guide. You'll need to carry a pack on the Gillespie Pass section of the trip, these will weigh 10-12kgs (22-26lbs.

Yes, however, you will only need to carry a bigger pack with your own personal clothing and gear and a sleeping bag on days 5-8. During your hikes at Lake Tekapo and in the Aoraki/Mt Cook region, you'll only need to carry a day bag with your lunch, water and a rain jacket.

Sure can! Over 50% of our travellers travel solo, it’s a great way to meet like-minded people.

Tips are not included in the trip cost. These are entirely at your discretion but there is an expectation to tip for good service. Your guide will help with advice, however we suggest the below as a guideline per person:

XXX

Of course, you are free to tip more or less, and the amount should be reflective of your perception of service and quality - a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.

Your guides will ensure that everyone is kept well hydrated throughout the trek, with various refill locations throughout the hikes, including at your lodge and mountain hut accommodations. Be sure to bring one or two reusable water bottles or a bladder to carry your own water while hiking.

New Zealand is well known for its ever changing weather. The Southern Alps are characterized by long sunny and dry spells, interspersed with sudden and sometimes heavy rain or snow. Your experienced guides are trained to give you the best possible trip under any conditions through their many years of experience in these mountains. The mountain guides used on this trip are all qualified through the New Zealand Mountain Guides Association. If you get unlucky with a spot of rain on your trip, the flip side is that the temperate rainforest here is incredibly beautiful in rainy conditions. Every cloud!

Yes, additional luggage and valuables can be safely stored at your host's office in Wanaka during your trip.

We recommend checking out the country-specific information here and also talking to a travel nurse.

For current advice about travelling in New Zealand, have a read of the UK Foreign Office pages here.

Our recommended travel insurance provider is Campbell Irvine.

Travel insurance is compulsory on all of our adventures. Your insurance should include adequate protection for overseas medical treatment, evacuation/repatriation, your baggage and equipment and the specific activities involved on your adventure.

Your insurance policy should also include specific Covid-19 cover, including cancellation and curtailment cover if you, your travel companion or a close relative are diagnosed with Covid-19.

We fully endorse Campbell Irvine as their insurance offers all of the above, so get in touch with them or call on 020 7938 1734 to get your insurance sorted. We suggest that you book travel insurance as soon as you book your adventure, just to cover you for any last minute life changes. We know you’re an active lot and injuries do happen!

We automatically convert prices from the local currency that a host receives to your chosen currency. We update our exchange rates on a daily basis so this does mean that prices displayed on the site are subject to currency fluctuations, which is why you may see them change over time.

If you wish to change the currency you pay in, head to the bottom of the page.

All of our group adventures are specially designed for adults to enjoy (18+) as we want these adventures to bring together outdoorsy people who are truly like-minded. Children can be accommodated on some private departures.

You're in good company. Our adventures are typically made up of a mix of solo travellers and small groups of two or three friends who simply love adventure, pushing themselves and meeting awesome like-minded people. See here for more info about our lovely bunch of Much Better Adventurers.

Want to book a private trip? Just tap ‘Private Group’ in the dates and prices tab.

Your trip is led by carefully curated local hosts and expert guides. See here for more info about the guides we work with.

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