Here in the foothills of the Southern Alps you are in the newly created Kahui Kaupeka Conservation Park of the Two Thumb Range with grand views across the Mackenzie Basin and of the major peaks of the Main Divide, Mounts Cook and Tasman. We recommend 3 days as an optimum time for sampling snowshoeing, but for those limited to weekends 2 days will certainly give a refreshing break; and there are plenty of trail options for those who are able to spend 5 days.
How difficult is snowshoeing?
The snow evens out the bumps and hollows of the summer terrain and makes it easy to walk over the surface without having to negotiate rocks or tree roots as you often have to do when tramping. With the addition of ski poles it makes for enjoyable walking, taking in the scenery, instead of watching where you are placing your feet. If you enjoy bushwalking, tramping or just ordinary hiking, then you'll enjoy walking over the snow on snowshoes.
You don't sink into the snow as you would with just boots on. Using snowshoes is very straightforward - it's as simple as strapping them onto your normal hiking boots, grabbing a pair of ski poles and walking! You need to have good tramping stamina and at least average fitness. If you enjoy going for longer walks, you'll enjoy snowshoeing.
First Day: 8:00 am gear check at our office, 30 Murray Place, Lake Tekapo. From Lake Tekapo township we drive along the lakeshore to the top of Lake Tekapo. 3 hours' hike with a climb of 550 m/1805 ft brings us to the cosy Rex Simpson Hut, at 1300 m/4265 ft. The views over Lake Tekapo are expansive. Time permitting we may do one of the shorter trails (e.g. Mt Gerald Stream) in the afternoon or head up onto the ridge behind the hut to admire the view.
Relax with a hot drink beside the pot belly stove as your guide prepares a tasty dinner. Watch the sun set behind the alps and enjoy spectacularly clear displays of our Southern Hemisphere stars. No light or air pollution up here! As the hut is fully stocked we only need to carry some fresh items of food (e.g. bread, fruit, vegetables, meat) and our personal clothing and equipment.
Subsequent Day(s): Based at Rex Simpson Hut, we will explore the winter wonderland around Mt. Gerald, Camp Stream Valley, Snake Ridge, Beuzenberg Peak and the Southern Terraces. Please refer to the "Trail Options" section.
Last Day: Return to Lake Tekapo, with the option of doing one of the shorter trails in the morning (e.g. Southern Terraces), arriving back around 4-5:00 pm.
Mt. Gerald Stream: From hut, around the corner, up Mt Gerald Stream and onto the plateau of Mt Gerald itself, with views down to Lilybank Station and up the Godley Valley and across Lake Tekapo. Return same way or cross Snake Ridge and follow down to hut. 3-4 hours return.
Snake Ridge - Beuzenberg Peak: Up to saddle looking into Camp Stream, then up onto Snake Ridge, following all the way up to Beuzenberg Peak, 2070m and return via ridge or via Camp Stream. Great views of East Face of Mount Cook, Mt Tasman and other Main Divide peaks as you cruise along the ridge top. 6 hours return.
Southern Terraces: Head south from hut, enjoying the view out over Lake Tekapo as far as Lakes Benmore and Pukaki, traverse back around into the lower end of Camp Stream, stopping off to take a step back in time with a visit to an old musterers' hut, before following up the gorge and back over the saddle to Rex Simpson Hut. 4-5 hours return.
Camp Stream Traverse: Up to saddle behind hut, down into Camp Stream valley and up a peak, 1666 m, on the eastern side for grand views into the next valley and a different perspective of the Main Divide. This trek can be extended into the next valley (subject to safe snow conditions). 3-4 hours return.
Camp Stream - Stag Saddle: Great on a windy day to have the shelter of the valley. Amble beside the gurgling stream up to the bumps and basins at the head of the valley, before climbing up to Stag Saddle, 1925 m. Return same way, or traverse up onto Snake Ridge and descend that way. 6 hours return.
Why go with a guide? You can get into the mountains without having to bring a lot of gear. The snowshoes and ski poles are provided, along with any other gear you may need to borrow, including boots.
- It's safer. Winter mountain travel does bring hazards such as avalanche potential and white-outs which are not present in summer. Guides know where avalanche danger is, how to avoid it and are equipped to deal with it. They have navigation skills with both compass and GPS.
- You're above the bushline all the time, so it is very easy to get lost when cloud comes in. The guides' local knowledge is a huge advantage.
- No heavy loads to carry because sleeping bags, stoves, fuel and non-perishable food are at the hut.
- You have a clean hut and a guaranteed bunk.
Equipment: Alpine Recreation provides snowshoes and ski poles. A detailed equipment list will be sent at time of booking. Outdoor clothing, packs and boots can also be provided at no extra cost if necessary.
Accommodation pre-/post- tour: As our equipment check takes place at 8am on the morning of departure, you need to book accommodation in Tekapo the night before. After the tour, it is recommended to overnight in Tekapo again, or in Mount Cook. Accommodation options in Tekapo.
Insurance: In case of accident New Zealand's Accident Compensation scheme (ACC) will cover the majority of costs (about 80%) involved with evacuation and injury treatment, even for visitors to New Zealand. However you still need ordinary travel insurance to cover such things as your cancellation if an injury prevents you taking part on the trip, or a close relative suddenly becomes ill; and medical insurance in case you become ill. More information re Accident Compensation. The New Zealand Alpine Club provides a good mountaineering specific travel insurance.
How green are we? Alpine Recreation reduces its carbon footprint and environmental impact through such things as:
- restricting group size
- using fuel efficient vehicles
- minimising use of vehicles and aircraft
- recycling, re-using, composting, avoiding "consumerism"
- minimal impact huts
- bulk buying of food supplies
- promoting conservation of native flora and fauna
- supporting community efforts to encourage appreciation of the natural environment.
- WEEKEND SPECIAL - get a group of 6-10 friends together for two days snowshoeing based at Rex Simpson Hut and pay only $500 per person, all inclusive.
- 2-10 participants per guide.
Individual bookings welcome. If you end up being the only person on a trip you will have the option of changing to another date or a full refund.
- Price per person in NZ$ (valid until 30 April)
- 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.
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