From Australia’s Larapinta trail to NZ’s Gillespie-Rabbit Passes ...
Michael as a lad grew up in Tasmania where he developed a love of remote wilderness areas, and cold, snowy environments. That’s why he decided to take a job guiding for World Expeditions on the Larapinta trail based out of Alice Springs in one of the hottest places in Australia !?! Once there though he discovered that Outback Australia has its own spectacular scenery and the remote Larapinta offered a stark contrast in landscape to his home territory at the bottom of the country.
After completing a season of guiding in the Australian desert, the lure of snow-capped mountains and glacial-fed rivers appealed again, so Michael decided to give New Zealand a go. It wasn’t long before he was guiding clients on our Gillespie Rabbit Pass route in the Mt Aspiring National Park.
So how do the two guided trips compare? Michael explains ...
The Challenge: the Larapinta and Gillespie-Pass are both difficult hikes. These are long trips – 14 days from End to End on the Larapinta and 8 days on the Gillespie-Rabbit Pass. However, while the Larapinta extends for a massive 223 km, the Gillespie Rabbit Pass only covers approx 90 km - this reflects the challenging nature of the terrain in New Zealand – lots of ups and downs, and an uneven trail to follow. Both trips have dangerous, exposed sections where trekkers must pay full attention to every foot placement.
The Remoteness: Both trips wind their way through remote regions where other parties are seldom seen. On the Rabbit Pass section of Rabbit Pass, it is very rare to see another person outside of the group - maybe the odd solo hiker, hunter or a stag or two.
Light Packs: Private, pre-placed camps are complete with tents, sleeping bags, camping equipment and tasty wholesome cuisine. This is one of the main advantages of going guided – no heavy pack to carry!
Water: The big difference between the two trips is around this commodity - A lack of it on the Larapinta and an over-abundance on the Gillespie Rabbit Pass. Larapinta clients may need to carry 3-5 litres on longer days. On the Gillespie-Rabbit Pass, there is a plentiful supply of sparklingly clean and refreshingly cold water to drink straight from the streams and rivers. But, sometimes you can have too much of a good thing... and this creates its own challenges. With NZ’s fast-changing weather, rain and/or snow in the forecast can mean having to change the itinerary of the trip to take advantage of good weather for the pass days. Rivers can rise and fall quickly making them hazardous to cross, which is why many people decide to go with an experienced guide like Michael, who knows the area and can read the weather and make safety decisions.
Here's what Kerryn, one of this season's Gillespie-Rabbit Pass clients, had this to say about the experience ... "... a challenging walk that was the longest and hardest I'd done and I felt absolutely safe and enjoyed every minute of it. It's a joy to see remote places that you have to work hard to get too. I cannot thank Michael enough for the guidance and encouragement, particularly at the start of waterfall flat. He was brilliant and gave me total confidence the entire time. Always felt in control and got us where we needed to be and when. He was also full of awesome conversation and made the trip fun. He really is exactly what you want and need in a guide. Michael did a brilliant job guiding/feeding us/teaching us all poker and just generally adding so much to the experience. I loved every minute. Even the hard ones and the pre-dawn Rabbit Pass wake up. This will always be a really special memory."
The contrast between the two trips is what keeps Michael swapping between the two locations. There's great satisfaction in getting his clients safely and happily to the end of both challenging adventures. Michael is heading back to Alice Springs this week for the 2016 winter, but we’re already booking him in for Gillespie-Rabbit Pass trips for summer 2017.Back to News