Tasman and Murchison Glaciers:
A very popular and reliable venue is Kelman Hut at the head of the Tasman Glacier. Access is by ski plane or helicopter from Mount Cook Village. Kelman Hut is the base for day trips on the Tasman and Murchison Glaciers. For intermediate skiers the Tasman Glacier offers many runs of gentle gradient. Hochstetter Dome, an easy beginners' mountain, can be climbed from here. Aircraft access in and out is essential.
For the more advanced skiers the Murchison Glacier, Mannering and Aida Glaciers as well as the Darwin and Bonney Glaciers offer many rewarding ski runs. Mount Sydney King, Mount Green and Elie de Beaumont are outstanding peaks that may be attempted. Being to the east of the Main Divide the Tasman and Murchison Glaciers often enjoy perfect powder snow. For ski mountaineers a crossing from the Tasman to the Franz Josef Glacier is possible via the Rudolf Glacier and Graham Saddle.
Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers:
The head of the Fox Glacier (Pioneer Hut) or Franz Josef Glacier (Centennial Hut) in the Westland National Park offer great venues on the western side of the Main Divide. Access is from Fox or Franz Josef Glacier townships by helicopter. While the weather on the West Coast is more changeable, the views over the Tasman Sea are unrivaled in the world.
Mounts Grey, Lendenfeld and Tasman may be climbed from Pioneer Hut. The Minarets, Mount von Bulow and Drummond Peak are accessible from Centennial Hut. Aircraft access is essential. For competent skiers there are the ski-descent from the glaciers via the Fritz Range, separating the Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers and the magnifcent ski-run down past ice falls to Chancellor Hut or Almer Hut. These rate amongst the finest New Zealand has to offer.
Huts: Kelman, Pioneer and Centennial Huts are public huts that cannot be booked. The huts work on a first come first served basis. Climbers must carry their own sleeping bags, food, stove, fuel and cooking utensils to the huts as well as some party equipment and their personal equipment.
It is essential that participants are fit enough to walk out from the high mountain venue in case bad weather prevents a return flight. This can involve skiing and hiking with a full pack (approximately 20kg including skis) over sometimes rough ground for 6 to 8 hours.
Participants need to be able to ski competently in untracked snow and with a pack. Basic mountaineering skills and strong intermediate or advanced skiing ability are essential. For an easier option we recommend Nordic & Cross-country Skiing in the Lake Tekapo High Country (this venue is also suitable for alpine touring).
Fitness: A high level of fitness is required. Participants need to carry a backpack of about 8 kg plus their skis for 3 hours to the hut (550 vertical metres). On subsequent days packs will be light, but participants will be doing the equivalent of a six-hour walk/climb. Previous tramping or hiking experience is essential.
Skiing ability: The Two Thumb Range is suitable for intermediate to advanced skiers. Guides will give instruction on downhill technique as needed. If you have little or no off-piste skiing experience, we recommend spending 1-2 days before the tour with our private ski instructor at one of our local ski fields (Mt. Dobson, Roundhill or Ohau).
Ski Touring experience: No previous ski touring experience is required, however you are expected to have at least an intermediate level of downhill skiing ability (safe turns in untracked snow).
Note: For a non-skiing option we recommend Snowshoe Hikes in the Lake Tekapo High Country.
First Day: 8:00 am gear check at our office, 30 Murray Place, Lake Tekapo. You need to bring your own alpine touring boots, but otherwise we can provide all other equipment. Drive one hour to Mt Cook airport and fly in to Kelman or Centennial or Pioneer Hut. After off-loading food at the hut a half-day tour will warm-up the off-piste technique. Alternatively, weather conditions may dictate driving to the West Coast (6 hours) and taking the shorter flight from there.
Subsequent Days: The guide will assess your skiing ability and offer day tours appropriate to your level. Ski ascents such as Mt. Sydney King or Elie de Beaumnont (from Kelman Hut) or Minarets (from Centennial Hut) can be on the menu, or you can choose less ambitious peaks, but with just as good skiing opportunities. If bad weather confines you to the hut, the guide can offer instruction on navigation, avalanche awareness, mountain weather or any mountain-related topic you request. Transceiver practice is covered as a matter of course.
Last Day(s): From Kelman Hut, ski down to lower airstrip and fly out. From Centennial or Pioneer Hut, fly back to Mt Cook airport, or, if you have driven around to the West Coast, ski down to Chancellor Hut and fly out. Return to Lake Tekapo, arriving back around 5:00 pm.
- 2-4 participants per guide.
- Individual bookings welcome. If you end up being the only person on a trip you will have the option of changing to another date, a full refund, or paying the single participant price of NZ$3350 for 5 days (NZ$650 per extra day).
- Please note that on public holidays there will be a surcharge of NZ$80 per person per day. New Zealand public holidays: Labour Day 24/10, Christmas Day 25/12, Boxing Day 26/12, New Year 1/1 & 2/1, Waitangi Day 6/2, Good Friday 6/4, Easter Monday 9/4, Anzac Day 25/4.
- We are totally flexible in choice of venue, according to weather and snow conditions. This is why we do not include air access in the price.
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