Gillespie Pass is located in the heart of New Zealand's Mount Aspiring National Park. This trip takes in the Young and Siberia Valleys and culminates in Gillespie Pass at over 1500m, a stunningly beautiful location. The prepared track and bridges make this trek less daunting than Rabbit Pass, but like all Wild Walks, it is still a challenge.
It's important to remember the track won't be as well-formed as the Great Walks - see our FAQ's for more info. While you won't be walking along cliff edges there are some sections (normally a few metres along) that will require your full concentration and good footing.
Jess, Australia, Gillespie Pass
We meet you at our offices in Wanaka. After checking through the group's gear, we depart for the township of Makarora. If the rivers are high then jet boat access to the start of the track is provided. The Young Valley is a wonderland of dense native forest and high peaks. The trail steepens and climbs steadily to tree line. Tonight we stay at Young Hut. Waterfalls, roaring canyons and beautiful temperate rainforest, a big day!
15km -- 7 hrs -- 650m ascent
The track winds its way up the valley sidewall under the awesome East Face of Mount Awful. This is really an alpine paradise with hanging snowfields and waterfalls galore. The track passes though open meadows that after 3 to 4 hours leads to the pass. The steep track winds up and up (and up) ending at Gillespie Pass and one of the great viewpoints of the Southern Alps. It’s pretty impressive with Mount Alba and Mount Awful dominating the skyline. Two hours downhill and we reach our camp next to tranquil Gillespie stream.
7km-- 6hrs--900m ascent--700m descent
Today we do a day trip to Lake Crucible. This unusual lake sits high above the Siberia Valley, nestled under Mt Alba. It is a steep climb through native forest with a small river crossing, and finally the ascent through a snowgrass flat until you reach the lake. Surrounded by towering walls, Lake Crucible is a geographic wonder carved by the glaciers.
14 km -- 7hrs -- 600m ascent -- 900m descent
This is the easy day so a sleep in and big breakfast are welcome after the big days so far. From Siberia Hut with the Siberia River in the foreground. Bring your camera! It is all downhill to Kerin Forks Hut at the confluence of the Upper Wilkin and Siberia Valleys. Here we meet our waiting jetboat for an exhilarating ride back to Makarora. It is a wild finish to a Wild Walk
The track begins in dense temperate rain forest and steadily climbs into wondrous alpine paradise. We finish the trip with a thrilling jet boat ride back to civilization.
On this trip we use Young Hut the first night and camp out the second and third nights. If the weather is inclement we can drop down to the comfort of Siberia Hut rather than camp out.
Our professional guide will ensure your safety as we explore this remote and wild area. All food and camping gear is supplied; all you carry is your own clothing and sleeping gear. You can bring your own sleeping bag and thermorest or we have this gear available for hire.
If native flora is your interest, the primordial plant associations will amaze you. Eighty percent of the native plant species are found nowhere else in the world! This is an experience you will never forget.
Pack 30-40 litre Weight 6-9kg
This is classic New Zealand hiking which is to say the track is rough and sometimes wet. While there is a prepared track it is not groomed to the level of the busier Great Walks trails. Sometimes the footing is unstable and hikers need to be good on their feet and be comfortable on rough or slippery ground. While it can be slippery you will not encounter deep mud. Hikers should be able to maintain a slow but steady pace uphill for an hour between rest stops. You will only carry your own gear plus sleeping bag (no tent or food) and each day walking is designed to be 5-7 hours. There is plenty of time to rest, swim, and take photos.
Track times and distances in New Zealand can be deceiving. The tracks here are quite slow progress compared to other countries. The nature of the terrain means that you seldom get long stretches of fast travel. Tracks twist through the forest, there are streams and waterfalls to negotiate around as well as steep ascents and descents. In the alpine, there can be loose scree or exposed drops. Do not be deceived into thinking that days with short mileage will be easy - the days that we travel less than 10km can be more tiring than days we travel considerably more distance. Call it what you want, but it is never dull!
Most of our mountaineering ascents are conducted on a 1:1 basis, so no problem there.
For all other group climbing, skiing or trekking trips, we have a 2 person minimum number to operate a trip. If you are travelling on your own, try to organise your itinerary to match up with the dates scheduled for the course or trip listed on our website.
If you can't join a trip on our scheduled dates: then you have two options:
Book a private 1:1 trip for any dates you wish or we can book you as a single and we will try to match others to your dates. If we cannot find at least one other person for the dates you want, one month before the start date we will give you a full refund or offer you an alternative trip 1:1 for a fewer number of days.
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.
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. However, our Chief 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 & 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.