The Gillespie Pass Circuit is located in the heart of New Zealand's Mount Aspiring National Park. This guided trek takes in the Siberia and Young Valleys and culminates in Gillespie Pass at 1600m, a stunningly beautiful location for experienced hikers. The prepared track and bridges make this trek less daunting than Rabbit Pass, but like all our treks, 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 office in Wanaka. After checking through the group's gear, we depart for the township of Makarora. We start this day with a river crossing of the Makarora then spend the first part of the day following the gentle incline of the Young River followed by a steeper climb up through the beautiful native bush to Young Hut, our base camp for the night.
Today we reach the high point of the trip, Gillespie Pass. This is a real accomplishment, and you will be rewarded with stunning views after the tough climb through the circuit. After leaving Young hut, we get above the tree line and head into a stunning basin before a steep, long climb to the pass at 1,600 meters. We then descend to the Siberia Valley finishing with a hours walk along the river flats to Siberia Hut for the night.
12kms -- 6-8 hrs
Today is a trip up 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 at Siberia Stream, 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 kms return --7 hrs (550mts ascent/descent)
Today is our final day as we head down the beautiful Siberia Valley toward the Wilkin River. The track takes us high above the Siberia Gorge with beautiful views looking back up the valley, then winds its way down to the Wilkin River where we meet our Jetboat for the thrilling ride back to Makarora township.
8km -- 3 hrs
The trip takes you through beautiful native forest and high into the sub-alpine environment and ends with a thrilling jet boat ride out from a wondrous alpine paradise.
On this trip, we use Young Hut the first night and Siberia Hut for the second and third nights. If you prefer, or the huts are full, we can also camp out.
If native flora is your interest, the primordial plant associations will amaze you. Eighty per cent of the native plant species are found nowhere else in the world! This is an experience you will never forget.
Pack 50-60 litre Weight 8-12kg
The Gillespie Pass guided trek 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, as well as be comfortable on rough or slippery ground. While the ground 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. 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.