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Aoraki Mt Cook and Tai Poutini Westland national parks

This is the heart of New Zealand’s alpine country, containing all but one of the 30 peaks over 3000m.

Soaring above the bleached tussock plains of the McKenzie Basin to the east and majestic rain-forest to the west, the high peaks of the Southern Alps have been the focus of New Zealand mountaineers for over 100 years.

The area is heavily glaciated and the climbing is generally serious. Most of the peaks have long glacier approaches, with extensive moraine at lower altitudes. Approaches to some huts are serious climbs in themselves.

Godley and Murchison Valleys

Mt Sibbald (2804m) is a high peak in the lower Godley valley. The dominant peak of the Godley is Mt D’Archiac (2865m) which is a long climb from the Godley Hut. Many peaks can be climbed from the feeder glaciers of the Godley. In the upper Godley itself is McClure Pk (2497m); above the Neish Plateau Mt Victoire (2484m) and Mt Wolseley (2530m); above the Grey Glacier are Mt Loughnan (2576m) and other striking mountains.

The Classen Glacier has Mt Moffat and Mt Mannering (2637m). Climbs on the divide peaks have also been achieved from the west, via the head of the Whataroa valley and its tributary the Butler.

The Murchison Glacier is long with much moraine. Brodrick Pk (2637m) is perhaps the most appealing mountain of the upper Murchison.

To the east the Liebig Range has summits up to 2850m, which are mostly straightforward climbing on broken rock.

In the Malte Brun Range there are long climbs over generaly good rock and broken glaciers, Malte Brun(3155m) being the highest peak.

Tasman Valley

The head of the Tasman Glacier, though a serious area, is a good introduction to the Mount Cook region. The peaks, of which Mt Elie de Beaumont (3117m) is the highest, mainly involve snow and ice climbing. Tasman Saddle Hut

In the Malte Brun Range are excellent climbs on firm rock ridges, including Malte Brun itself.

Mt De La Beche (2992m) and The Minarets (3055m) are usually climbed from the the De La Beche corner. Mt Haidinger (3066m) and Douglas Pk (3085m) are rarely climbed from the Tasman valley.

Mt Haast (3138m) can be climbed from Haast Hut. Plateau Hut is a base for climbing about 12 peaks over 3000m. Mt Dixon (3010m) and Mt Haast (3138m) and Lendenfeld Pk (3200m) are short but steep climbs from the Grand Plateau. Mt Tasman (3498m) is often climbed via the Silberhorn (3307m). Various peaks over 3000m can be climbed from the head of the Linda Glacier, which is the usual route to Mt Dampier (3440m) and Aoraki Mt Cook (3764m).

Hooker and Mueller Valleys

It is a relatively short walk to the upper Hooker Glacier, but the trip is serious and often difficult. From Empress Hut steep and difficult climbs can be made on Mt Hicks (3216m), Mt Dampier, and the High Peakand Middle Peak (3270m) of Aoraki Mt Cook. There are easier routes to the Low Peak (3593m) and La Perouse (3079m).

Mt Sefton (3157m) is a long and difficult climb from the lower Hooker valley.

Mueller Hut gives access to the Sealy Range, which is a suitable introductory area to the Mt Cook region. Mt Sealy (2637m) can be climbed from Mueller Hut, but peaks at the head of the Mueller Glacier are less accessible.

Western Neves

The Spencer Glacier and Burton Glacier, which feed the Callery River, are rather inaccessible. Ascents of Mt Elie de Beaumont from this side are rare.

Centennial HutThe Franz Josef Glacier is fed by a number of extensive snowfields, which are popular with ski mountaineers in the winter. Centennial Hut is the base for ascents of peaks in the Fritz Range and on the Main Divide, including Mt Jervois (2648m), Mt Auroa (2685m), Mt Spencer (2796m) and The Minarets (3056m).

Pioneer Hut The source of the Fox Glacier comprises several separate neves, and because of the well-sitedPioneer Hut is a popular climbing area. Mt Haidinger and Douglas Pk are short climbs of some difficulty, and the three peaks of Mt Haast have many quite demanding climbs. Lendenfeld Pk is a straightforward snow and ice climb from which a capable party can traverse to Mt Tasman. Torres Pk (3160m) requires a long walk across the neves.

The Balfour Glacier has rather difficult access, either from the Fox Glacier or over Silberhorn. Difficult routes on Mt Tasman and Torres Pk, as well as hard rock climbs on Mt Drake and Mt Magellan (3060m), are available.

Also rather difficult of access are the La Perouse neves, from which seven peaks over 3000m, including La Perouse, Mt Hicks and Mt Dampier can be climbed.

The Strauchon Glacier is rarely visited, although the twin peaks Mt Unicorn (2560m) and Dilemma Pk(2619m) have been climbed by difficult rock routes.

The Douglas neve is reached from the Copland valley by a long trip up Scotts Creek. Mt Sefton is a straightforward climb from the neve.



Aoraki/Mount Cook Guidebook


Maps can be purchased from Mapworld who offer NZAC members a 10% discount. NZAC members receive a 25% discount on maps purchased through Federated Mountain Clubs (FMC).

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