As you probably know I love mountaineering. Well, this is a new blog so you might not know that. But anyone that knows me is sure of it. I love climbing. One of the places I most like to climb is New Zealand so I’d like to share a few tips and give a heads up to the great guys bringing people up and down the mountains safely every day. This is by far NOT an exhaustive list. It’s an intro. I’ll get into the deeper stuff later on. I’m climbing guys!!! what do you expect? Anyway, notes and comments are welcome.
History and Environment
In 1935, a New Zealander by the name Dan Bryant was the first person from New Zealand to climb the Himalayas. In 1951, Edmund Hillary followed in the footsteps of Dan Bryant and together with the New Zealand Alpine Club, they climbed the Garwhal Himalaya. The legacy of New Zealanders conquering mountains and Alps from Europe to Asia is well known.
Back in New Zealand, you are greeted by misted mountains, emerald fjords, ancient fern ridden forests and cascading waterfalls. If you saw Lord of the Rings Trilogy, then you have seen but a glimpse of what New Zealand has to offer.
There are sulphur lakes as well as miles of empty black and white sandy beaches. From the time you land in the country to the time you rendezvous with your guide or hiking party, you need to have knowledge of what you will expect especially if you are planning to climb the mountains.
Below is where to go mountaineering in New Zealand.
New Zealand’s Southern Alps
The Southern Alps stretch for a distance of 500 kilometers which begins from the Nelson Lakes National Park in the North East to the entrance of Milford Sound which is located in the south west. The Southern Alps is basically a chain of high mountains which are heavily glaciated and rise above 3,000 meters. They are composed of larger high snowfields and glaciers which extend to the major valleys.
Apart from the highest peak Aoraki or Mount Cook, other mountains found on the Southern Alps include Mount Tasman (11,437’), Malte Brun (10,492’), Mount Dampier (11,286’), Mount Silberhorn (10,837’) and Mount Earnslaw (9,285’). Other mountains include Mount Rolleston (7,451’), Mount Lendenfeld (10,472’), Mount Murchison (7900’) and Mount Adams (7,244’).
A taste of the adventure
The mountain is heavily glaciated and the one thing you need to know before mountaineering is that it is no easy climb. What this means is that you need to be prepared not only with the right attire and equipment but with the right provisions and experienced guides. The Aoraki is not a mountain to be underestimated. You need to know that it is difficult than the Liberty Ridge located on Mt Rainier. It is also comparable in length with the Aguille Verte which is located in Chamonix, France. If you have had a chance of climbing these mountains, then you know what lies ahead. If it’s your first time, its best to follow what your guide says.
There are many mountaineering companies in New Zealand that can provide guides who are experienced to climb any of the mountains above as well as train you in the best way to do so. Here are top five guiding companies you can choose for your expedition up the mountains.
The company is located in Wanaka, New Zealand and is renowned to be one of the best when it comes to mountain climbing. The company offers 72 expeditions which include New Zealand, Himalaya, Antarctica, Arctic, South America and the Seven Summits. The company has been around for more than 2 decades and it has a wide variety of packages to offer.
The mountain guides from Alpine Guides are based year round in Mount Cook National park. They offer unparalled access to the highest mountains in New Zealand. The company has been around since 1966 having delivered professionally guided climbing, instruction courses and ski touring all over the Southern Alps.
This is a small, friendly and family run company that is based in Lake Tekapo in New Zealand. The company specializes in outdoor adventures all over the Southern Alps. Some of the trips you can embark on include alpine trekking, hiking, climbing courses, ski touring, snow shoeing and guided ascents.
The company is based in Wanaka which is one hour from Queenstown International Airport. It is also at the gate way of Mt Aspiring national park. The company is a host of experts who are ready to teach you the basics about mountaineering and you can access the parks by ground transport from their offices.
Alpinism and Ski
The company is a leading boutique and ski guiding enterprise that operates in the Southern Alps of New Zealand. They also operate in the Swiss, French and Italian Alps. The company specializes in high quality experiences for small groups and individuals.
First Light Guiding
FLG have a slightly different take on the mountaineering game. They offer spiritual mountaineering trips as part of their repertoire. Obviously, you can just do the straight guided climbing trips, but for those interested in getting in touch with their inner self while exploring nature this is just the ticket. Offering trips up Mt Aspiring and Mt Cook, as well as expeditions to Peru and further afield, this Wanaka based outfit has all you need to get started Mountaineering in New Zealand
Best time to visit the Southern Alps
According to experts, a tour of the Southern Alps can be made at any time of the year. Majority of guides’ advice interested parties to organize for tours between October to February. During this time, it is late winter in New Zealand which means the harsh conditions associated with winter have reduced but the best part is that the white snow will be covering the peaks.