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 heading back to Siberia Hut for the night.
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.
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 National Park. A leisurely 2 hour walk brings us to 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 track becomes rougher just before the lake, with a short boulder scramble, then 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 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.
We head down river to 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 south 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.
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.
9kms -- 3-4hrs
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 leaves the Siberia Valley and climbs steeply up Gillespie Stream, then away and up again towards the pass at 1,600 mts. From the top, the track then winds its way steeply down to the Young Valley. From here it's about another 45min to Young Hut.
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.
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 1,600m pass to cross which will also provide 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.
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)
Pat & Greg, Canada, Upper Wilkin Experience