Wanaka offers a vast range of options for your pre and post trip accommodation. It can be busy, so it is a good idea to book well in advance. There is everything from shared backpacker accommodation to five-star hotels, and lots in between. Click here for a list of places we usually find to be pretty good.
Most of our trips run from late June to late October. Check the webpage for the trip you are interested in for scheduled dates.
Ski / Snowboard Touring & Snowshoeing
The NZ ski season typically commences late June and ends early October, however backcountry touring is at its peak in September - late October.
We have trips from 1 day to 12 days. See the descriptions of individual trips on our website.
Generally our winter trips are based from a hut. Most days there is only need for lunch, snacks, water, camera, and a jacket. When relocating or touring out, you may need to carry 10-15kg which includes personal gear and some food.
As a general rule: the more technically advanced / more complex the terrain - the lower the guide to client ratio. All professional mountain guides contracted to Aspiring Guides are qualified professionals and operate under the terrain guidelines issued by the New Zealand Mountain Guides Association.
Our maximum group size for introductory ski/snowboard backcountry tours or courses is typically 1 guide with 6 clients. We write this as 1:6 guide ratio. For ski snowboard touring in glaciated terrain this ratio is 1:4.
Have a look at our website. We provide detailed information about the equipment required at the end of the trip description. Typically this includes a checklist which you can use to "tick off" your gear, a document giving more detailed explanations as well as some of our best "guide tips" and a video to visually explain some of the terminology.
For our trips we have 3 categories of equipment:
Compulsory items - this is equipment you must have with you. You can either purchase or hire depending on the item.
Trip Dependent - these are items that maybe needed but will depend on the venue for the trip and prevailing conditions. Most times this cannot be decided ahead of time. Our best advice is that if you already own the items listed in the trip dependent section and you can fit in your pack then bring them along. Things like your own rock shoes and snow goggles are good things to bring - but disposable eating utensils can easily be obtained in Wanaka.
Optional - these are items which you can choose to bring or leave behind. But we think you should at least bring your camera. Your trip will to some of the most breathtaking locations on the planet!
Feel free to contact us with any questions you may have about the suitability of equipment to avoid purchasing or carrying unnecessary equipment.
Technical Skiing/ Boarding Ability
For any group ski / snowboard backcountry tour or course you need to be an intermediate or advanced level skier or boarder. You are expected to have had experience skiing / riding off-trail ("off-piste") and away from groomed runs at resorts. You don't have to be an expert skier or rider but you do need to competently control your skis or board on a wide variation of terrain from gentle slopes to steep coloirs and exposed ridgelines and in snow conditions that can vary widely from hard icy conditions to deep heavy powder.
Unless you are travelling hut to hut, generally we avoid skiing or riding with a full pack and instead base each day's skiing from one hut / or central location. So while pack weights are light on most days of your tour, your pack maybe up to 15kg on your first and last day and you need to still be able to tour uphill and control your skiing / riding downhill while wearing a full pack.
Experience with touring equipment not essential but recommended
While it is not expected that you have experience utilising the specialised equipment for backcountry touring (ski touring bindings, skins, splitboards etc), some prior experience is an advantage. If you wish to book on a multi-day trip we generally recommend that you take at least one day prior to become familiar with the use your gear (whether you hire or own). Booking a 1 day - Treble Cone Backcountry Day with us is often a great idea!
If you are a private group or booking a 1:1 privately guided trip - your guide can handle any variety of ski level or experience - even if you would rate yourself as a beginner skier!
Fitness for Ski / Snowboard Backcountry Touring
There are no ski lifts in the backcountry! Touring is 80% uphill with the incentive of an untracked exhilarating ride to the bottom for the remaining 20%.
Endurance Fitness is crucial - both mental and physical. You need to be able to keep moving at a steady pace for 6 - 10 hours while carrying and skiing with a load. And you must be able to sustain this effort over multiple days - very few of our backcountry ski / snowboarding trips require only one day of effort!
One of the best ways to get "endurance" is sustained hiking under load. Short intense workouts at the gym are only slightly helpful. Big hikes ie., > 10 hrs on rough terrain with a pack is best. Long days cross country skiing and hiking trips of 4+ days are ideal training. But we understand that this type of training is pretty hard to get as a city dweller. Stair hiking with a 15+ kg and 20+ floors works remarkably well. But nothing beats getting out of the city to national park areas and mountain trails whenever you can.
If you have any questions at all, please contact us - we can send you information about a full training program for ski / snowboard touring in NZ.
Aspiring Guides is based in the small & scenically beautiful town of Wanaka. Situated on the shores of Lake Wanaka, on the South Island of New Zealand, Wanaka is the gateway to Mt Aspiring National Park - a World Heritage Area.
Wanaka is a 1-1.5 hour drive from Queenstown (which has an international airport for flights from Australia), 5 hours from Christchurch (with an international airport) and 3 hours from Dunedin. Wanaka has ample accommodation to suit all budget types and a wide range of outdoor sports stores necessary to equip you for a mountaineering, skiing or hiking trip with us.
We are located at 58 McDougall St, Wanaka, a short 10-15 minute walk from the centre of town.
Our offices are at 58 McDougall St, Wanaka, a 10-15 minute walk from the centre of town. Here's a google map of our office location.
Unless otherwise instructed, for summer trips your guide will meet you at 8.30am on the morning of day 1 of your trip. For winter trips we usually meet at 5:30pm the evening before the trip starts. We will confirm this meeting at the time of booking.
If you require pick up from your accommodation, please let us know.
At this meeting your clothing and equipment is checked and the final details of your trip are discussed. There will be time for last-minute purchases if required.
One thing we hear every trip is "the food was great! I never knew it was possible to eat so well on a climbing / skiing / trekking trip".
We put a lot of work into supplying you with wholesome meals with a variety of healthy and tasty ingredients and snacks catering to common preferences.
Where possible, we provide fresh vegetables and real coffee. However, there will always be limitations when cooking in an alpine or wilderness environment. Meals like salads are limited or not possible to provide. Some trips/ courses are not recommended for people with very restrictive or complex dietary requirements. If you do have a restrictive eating regime we ask that you disclose this to us at the time of booking and we may ask you to provide us with an advance copy of what you would typically eat on a wilderness trip.
For highly specialised diets requiring special food purchases - we may ask that you attend our offices on the day before your trip is due to commence. If you are joining a scheduled group that doesn't have food requirements, we may ask you to shop and pay for some of your preferred dietary requirements. You will also be required to carry this food and your guide may ask you to assist in the preparation of any separate meals required for you individually.
This tends to be one of the major concerns of clients going on group trips. However, in our experience, it is very rarely a problem. Due to our small group size, we largely avoid compatibility issues.
However, almost all of the trips we offer are physically demanding. It is very important that you are realistic in the self-assessment of your skills and experience. If you are not familiar with the NZ mountain and wilderness environment it is hard for you to judge how you will go. Our Lead Guide and all our guides are widely travelled and can give a good assessment before you join a trip whether your experience in other countries will work well for NZ conditions.
If you are joining a group, tolerance is an important personal quality. Tiredness from lack of fitness or sleeping in an unfamiliar environment can take its toll over a long trip. But it is important to remember that while you might be the fastest, you might be the weakest at tying into your harness, crossing a river or making turns in deep powder snow. Inevitably every person on a group trip will have their own unique strengths and weaknesses. An upbeat temperament and accepting attitude go a long way in the mountains.
If you are really concerned about your compatibility with others and you have not done many group trips then we are happy to offer private options on request.
New Zealand is famous for its changeable weather. The mountains here are characterised by long sunny fine periods mixed with sudden and sometimes heavy rain or snow. Our experienced guides are well equipped to provide the best possible trip and have many years experience in judging the conditions.
Travel in bad weather is an art in itself. By using Aspiring Guides you give yourself the best chance of success dealing with whatever the weather may throw at you. We also offer a bonus one day weather contingency on ascents and winter trips that require helicopter access. This means your trip could start a day late if you choose to use this option.
If the weather remains adverse and prevents the trip from operating as originally planned, you have the opportunity to carry out sub-alpine adventure and skill development activities. The guide fee applies and any trip costs not utilised will be refunded.
It is important that you have read and understood our booking terms and conditions. Once a trip begins there are no refunds.
You can defer your trip for one day and not waste any precious guiding time. You will start the next day with the full number of days allocated for the trip still available. Effectively your guide is holding themselves available for 1 extra day of guiding at no extra charge.
While one day may not be the cure for all bad weather situations, sometimes a one day delay at the start of your alpine touring trip can make all the difference. If you want to take advantage of this bonus, make sure you allow for this extra day in your itinerary.
The bonus one day weather contingency applies to all Summer ascent based trips, any Winter trips (whether ascent, course, ski tour) and also summer treks: Rabbit Pass, Lake Nerine and Adelaide Cirque. The weather contingency does not apply to any Summer climbing courses. As you will appreciate - no matter what the weather there is always mountaineering skills you can learn indoors.
But please note:
The one-day weather contingency applies only to the start date of your trip. This means your trip could start a day later if your guide recommends and you agree to choose this option. It is important to understand that once a trip begins no weather contingency days are included. There are no refunds for bad weather during the trip.
Yes, no problem. We have storage for anything you aren't taking on your trip. There's no electricity, internet or phone connection available on any of our trips - so it's best to leave most of your electronic gear with us for the duration of your trip.
The closest airport to us is in Queenstown. There are regular shuttles between Wanaka and Queenstown airport (one-hour drive).
No. Most people use shuttle bus transport or a taxi service from Queenstown Airport to Wanaka. If you stay in accommodation in central Wanaka then you will not need to rent a car. Most cafes, restaurants and activities are within easy walking distance.
You can book directly through our website using our online booking form. Please make sure you include details of the trip you want to book and the dates that you prefer. Provided that we have minimum numbers (ie., generally 2 persons) we will run all trips listed on our website. If you have dates that don't match our scheduled dates or you want to check whether a particular trip or course is running - please contact us.
We cannot confirm your place on any scheduled group trip or your guide for any 1:1 trip until we receive your payment of a NZ$500 deposit. The balance of the trip price is due 60 days before the start of your trip. If you are booking within 60 days of the trip start date then the full trip price is payable to confirm your booking.
All bookings are subject to our company Terms & Conditions relating to cancellation & liability issues. Please make sure you read our Terms & Conditions carefully before booking your trip with us as you will be asked to confirm that you have read and agreed to them before your booking is finalised with us.
We offer a number of different options for you to make payment for your trip:
Web-based Foreign Exchange Dealers
Bank Transfer - NZ Domestic & International
Credit Card - Visa, MasterCard only (3% fees apply)
See each individual trip descriptions for any trip or courses. All prices are in New Zealand Dollars and include the government 15% Goods & Services Tax (GST).
Here is a link to a currency converter to give you an estimate of the trip price in your own currency.
Generally, the price includes your qualified and friendly guide, all meals and snacks, park fees, hut fees, communications with Aspiring Guides Operations base and 15% Goods and Services Tax. Most technical equipment is included but transport costs like vehicle, jetboat, helicopter and/or air plane costs are not always included and vary with individual trips. See each individual trip description to see what is included or excluded from the price.