Hiking Mt Aspiring National Park Hiking Mt Aspiring National Park

Upper WIlkin - Gillespie Pass

Trek Summer
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6 days
Trekking experience
Backcountry Experience

Combining two of our most popular Wild Walks, this is a 6 day trek exploring the Upper Wilkin river valleys and lakes, heading into the Siberia Valley and over the famous Gillespie Pass before descending down through the Young Valley.

We spend several days hiking around the alpine lakes, valleys and waterfalls near the Upper Wilkin river and then head downstream, crossing the Wilkin river into the famous Siberia Valley. The names here reflect the challenging geography for the early explorers : Siberia Valley, Mt Awful, and Mt Dreadful. Luckily it's not quite as bad as it sounds for modern day hikers with pleasant huts and camps to sleep in. A side trip to Lake Crucible is well worth the effort before camping at our pre-placed site at Gillespie Stream.

By the fifth day when you are heading over Gillespie Pass at 1600m you will be hiking fit, and able to enjoy the magnificent views of Mt Awful. Descending steeply into the Young Valley, our final night is spent in the Young Hut.

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I like a bit of a challenge and like pushing myself just a little more than I am comfortable. This was definitely achieved especially with the river walks. We saw beautiful scenery, got some very good exercise and spent some quality time with friends...read more

Pat & Greg, Canada, Upper Wilkin Experience

Day One

We meet with transport and guide at 7:30 a.m from our offices in Wanaka. and travel 45 minutes to the small village of Makarora. Here we board a small fixed wing aircraft or helicopter and fly into the heart of Mount Aspiring Park. A leisurely 2-hour walk brings us to the Top Forks Hut. Dropping overnight gear, the rest of the day is spent walking to Lake Lucidius or if the group is strong - Lake Castilia, a high alpine lake surrounded by cliffs and hanging glaciers. The trail climbs gradually as it weaves through native beech forest until breaking out above tree line. The hiking gets rougher just before the lake with a short boulder scramble rewarded with a spectacular view of the valley and lake, the bold go for a swim. 6-7 hours return. Alternatively, if the weather is good, there is an option to set up a camp at Lake Diana (about a third of the way to Lake Castilia).

Day Two

Day hike to Waterfall flats and the remote, stunning alpine meadows. Marvel at the amazing waterfalls while you eat lunch then back to top Forks hut for the night.

Day Three

We head down river to the Kerin Forks Hut at the confluence of the Siberia and Upper Wilkin Rivers. This is a gentle downhill grade for 6-7 hours along the north bank of the great Wilkin River. The track is varied with lots of up and down with numerous river crossings. The track is surrounded by lush native bush.

Day Four

A steep track leads to the Siberia Valley. The valley is surrounded by high mountains. The early surveyors had a sense of humour when they named the two largest and beautiful ones Mt Awful and Mt Dreadful. We camp or stay in Siberia Hut. Today there is an option to head up to Lake Crucible as a side trip.

Day Five

Today we reach the high point of the trip, Gillespie Pass. This is a real accomplishment and you will be rewarded with one of the great views of the Southern Alps. The trail heads up Gillespie Stream and you'll climb steeply for 2 hours before we reach the top of the pass. For the top the track then steeply winds its way down (a long way down) to the Young Valley. From here it's just another 45min to Young Hut.


Day Six

The trail continues its steep descent into the rainforest. We follow the Young River which gradually flattens out and becomes a tranquil route through native forest for the final three hours. A final river crossing and we are met by the vehicle to take us back to Wanaka. 6-7 hours.

The scenery will certainly not disappoint

This trip has everything - alpine rivers, native beech forests, alpine tussock and snowgrass, snow capped mountains, ice covered lakes, waterfalls, and grassy meadows. There's also a high 1600m pass to cross which will also provide for a great sense of achievement at the end of the day.

The 6 day Upper Wilkin and Gillespie Pass is suitable for experienced hikers who are comfortable on uneven ground, but It doesn't have the same exposed sections as some of our other Wild Walks (Rabbit Pass or Lake Nerine). This trip is ideal for fit (but not so intrepid) hikers who are wanting a more extended time in the New Zealand mountains.


Trip Date Available
5 - 10 dec open
10 - 15 jan open
11 - 16 feb 1 place available
7 - 12 march open
Join a scheduled departure or book a private or custom trip to suit you.
C: = confirmed to run


Client Ratio Price
1:1 - 1:5 From NZ$3,150

What's included

  • tents and/or hut accommodation
  • all meals and snacks
  • fixed wing or helicopter flight in to Jumboland or Upper Wilkin valley
  • guide fees, permits and 15% goods and service tax (GST)

Frequently asked questions

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.

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)

Click here for a full list of payment options and details.

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